At 1 p.m. tomorrow afternoon, Plattsburgh State will play with color when the Indian Culture and Entertainment Club hosts its third annual Holi Festival of Colors on Memorial Field.
Holi, or the Festival of Colors, is a traditional Indian festival celebrated across India, signifying the end of winter and the beginning of spring. For many, it’s a time to play, laugh, sing, dance, forget, forgive and heal.
I.C.E. vice president and junior biology and medical technology major Devangi Patodiya likes to participate in the festival for its feeling of unity.
“It brings all the people together,” Patodiya said. “Even if I don’t like someone, I’ll still go and wish them Happy Holi.”
Vasu Govani, PSUC junior environmental science major and I.C.E. public relations manager, said Holi is celebrated differently in other regions of India, but most practices aren’t shy with the use of color.
“People who are passing by Memorial that day see colors splashing in the air and they’re like ‘This is interesting,’” Govani said.
I.C.E. president and sophomore geology major Shafik Vadsariya participated in the last year’s Holi before he became a member of the club’s e-board.
“I loved it,” Vadsariya said, explaining the fun he had playing with colors. “It was the reason I wanted to continue that tradition as president.”
Traditionally, Holi is celebrated during March. Because North Country weather limits springtime activities during that month, I.C.E. decided to host the event in April.
In past years, the club collaborated with the South Asian Student Association to host the festival; however, SASA was disbanded as of last semester. Since their departure, I.C.E. decided to take over and continue the Holi traditions.
Now, Vadsariya said Holi is one of three big events that I.C.E. hosts during the spring semester, the other two being International Women’s Day and the Bollywood Fashion Show.
“We didn’t want to let such a beautiful event go,” Vadsariya said, explaining how he feels the festival is the most exciting event out of the three. “People were really enthusiastic about this one.”
Last year, the club purchased enough supplies for about 80 to 90 people, but Vadsariya said at least 120 people showed up, and organizers quickly ran out of colors.
“It wasn’t just people from India,” Vadsariya said. “People from other international communities also joined in.”
For tomorrow’s festivities, I.C.E. has ordered roughly 140 pounds of color powder. Music and snacks will also be provided, and the event is free and open to the public.
In India, Holi lasts one night and one day. People gather around a bonfire called the Holika Dahan the night before Holi and perform religious rituals, praying the gods destroy their internal evils. The next morning, the festival of colors begins, where the people drench themselves in rainbows.
Although I.C.E. will not start a bonfire, they still plan to celebrate with plenty of color for anyone at PSUC to enjoy.
Patodiya said she enjoys the festival because it’s a chance to see her friends and simply celebrate culture despite busy student schedules.
“It’s when I can see everyone on campus,” she said. “It’s such a joyful day.”
Govani said the festival creates unity across all cultural backgrounds.
“We feel bonded when we’re together,” Govani said. “Holi just unites all the [diversity] on campus.”
Despite being a small club, Vadsariya hopes that hosting fun events like Holi will not only advertise I.C.E. but also lift international boundaries.
“It feels beautiful that we’re hosting something that’s part of such a grand scale event,” he said. “It feels like we’re a part of something bigger than our own culture.”
Email Emma Vallelunga at firstname.lastname@example.org