Sunday, May 19, 2024

Colorful celebration: Happiness in Holi

Students playfully shower eachother in colorful powders, known as gulal, outside of Kent Hall at noon, April 14.


By Cinara Marquis

Known for its colorful powders, or gulal, water balloons and joy, Holi is a popular Hindu festival that marks the coming of spring. Also known as the Festival of Color, the occasion is marked by coloring family and friends in gulal and drenching people with water.

Holi is usually celebrated in March, on the day of the last full moon of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month, Phalguna. It typically lasts for two days.

SUNY Plattsburgh’s Holi celebration was a collaboration between Club International and Community Advocates. It was hosted April 14 outside of Kent Hall.

“It’s a joyful festival known for its vibrant colors, lively music and delicious food,” Sumeet Vishwakarma, president of Club International, wrote over email. “During Holi, people come together irrespective of caste, creed or social status and celebrate with joy and enthusiasm. Holi promotes unity, brotherhood and the spirit of togetherness among people, making it one of the most beloved and widely celebrated festivals in India.”



People celebrate Holi for many reasons, as the festival’s origins are found in a variety of stories. One such story is that of the triumph of good over evil — the legend of Prahlad and Holika.

Prahlad, a devotee of Vishnu, was saved from his aunt Holika, who tried to burn him alive. Instead of burning him she ended up burning herself.

The tale is about the power of devotion over malice. It encourages those celebrating the Festival of Color to mend what is broken and forgive what is passed. It is also celebrated with commemorative bonfires Vishwakarma said.

Another legend linked to Holi is the legend of Krishna and Radha, which is where Holi’s other name, the Festival of Love comes from.

“According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna, the playful deity, used to celebrate Holi with his beloved Radha and other gopis, or cowherd girls, in the region of Vrindavan. Their playful throwing of colored powders and water became the inspiration for the colorful celebrations of Holi,” Vishwakarma wrote.



“The event was successful even though the weather was not good. It was a little cold and raining outside, but more than 100 people showed up for the event,” wrote Sandesh Poudel, DeFredenburgh CA and SA Senator, over email.

At the event, people played with gulal and splashed each other with water balloons and water guns. A DJ played music and South Asian refreshments were provided. The hosts also provided complimentary T-shirts to those who bought a ticket for the dinner event.

“We ordered food from Chartwells, but it was delicious because some members from Club International and Nepalese at Plattsburgh volunteered for several hours to prepare the food for the event, and we truly appreciate them.” Vishwakarma wrote.

There was a variety of unique, delicious dishes from South Asian cultures connecting attendees further to Holi.

“One attendee even gave us feedback, saying, ‘In the span of four years, this is the best food we’ve had at an event,’” Vishwakarma wrote.

“It was gorgeous but cold,” said attendee Isabella Johnston. “I felt like it was a great event to get the Plattsburgh community immersed in Hindu culture.”

Vishwakarma wrote that he wanted to spread awareness and understanding about South Asia through the event. He also wanted to advocate for inclusivity.

“Think of festivals like the Festival of Colors, where people put colors on each other regardless of gender, and when covered in colors, there’s no difference between individuals,” Vishwakarma  wrote. “Through events like this, you can learn a lot about origins, history, and significance out of curiosity.”

Not only did the event introduce some people to Holi, it also gave South Asian international and non-international students a feel from home.

Vishwakarma explained that he was one of the happiest people at the festival.

“Seeing everyone enjoying themselves, indulging in the delicious food, calling their friends to join and running around, I was speechless. The sight of people attending the event, the whole ground filled with colors and happiness — it was truly a remarkable moment.” Vishwakarma wrote.

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