Holi Festival 2013

Mrinalini Vijalapuram and Vakula Tummala

Holi, also known as “The Festival of Colors”, is a Hindu festival that has also become popular with people of other backgrounds and communities, with thousands of people celebrating it each year. Holi is a joyous occasion that commemorates the story of Prahlad, an ardent devotee of Vishnu, prevailing over the demon Holika. Furthermore, Holi ushers in the new spring season, and celebrates good harvests. It is observed worldwide, with participants organizing Holika Dahan, a bonfire symbolizing the defeat of Holika, and throwing colored powder at each other. As college students involved with the Hindu Students Association at our respective universities, we strive to bring together Hindus and individuals of other backgrounds as we celebrate Holi on our campuses.
At the University of Houston the theme for this year’s Holi, “Connecting cultures through color” was truly brought to life with the diversity of the students of all cultures who came to celebrate. It is a holiday to unite all cultures and races together. It is a day where no social classes exist; everyone is equal regardless of race, religion or status. If you looked out into the crowd of people from the stage, you noticed that everyone looked the same and any differences they had were washed away with color.
A student from Arkansas University, said that “[Holi] was a blast and made me realize the strength of our college community. As a freshmen, I am very grateful for this. I took along non-Indian friends and it was great to show them how we show our love in the festival of colors.”

Photo Credit: Texas A&M Branch
Holi at Texas A&M University had a huge turnout of over 1500 students, professors and families who, seemingly strangers to one another, danced together covered in color. Veena Pawate, HSA’s president at A&M, rightly said, “Holi has turned into a celebration of spring. It is a time to forget about everybody’s background and beliefs”. Holi this year at Texas A&M brought together people from various walks of life with the ultimate purpose of having fun.
Holika is a Hindu program that happens every year at Bellaire High School. The event consists of different organizations who organize a dance team competition for all local schools. The purpose of Holika is to provide a fun and informational event which showcases the diversity of Indian culture. The event has become very well known in the city of Houston and an estimate of 500 students attended the event this year. Chuck Davis reflected on this experience at Holika and said that “to understand the culture, study the dance. To understand the dance, study the people.”
The 3rd annual Holi at The University at Texas at Dallas had over 500 students of different backgrounds attend the event. Janani Ramachandran, a sophomore at UTD said that “[she] could not wait to throw the Holi powder but [she] patiently waited as Raja, president of HSA, said a sloka near the shrine set up by the officers.”
The HSA branch at The University of Texas at Austin hosted their 10th annual Holi this year. Pounds of Holi color were distributed to the 6000+ students and faculty that attended this event. Swati Verma noted that “In India, this is a big deal, it is the beginning of the farming season. I hope this event at UT connects students with another culture and symbolically celebrates differences in color—we’re all the same, we’re all people,” Verma said.

Photo Credit: Kevin Li
Holi is an occasion that brings together people of all cultures, big and small, old and young. This festival of colors is a symbol of love and togetherness. Though celebration of the Holi festival has religious significance, this festival brings people together and helps them forget the bitterness in relationships and improve the bonds. Through the celebration of Holi on different campuses around the country, we strive to break apart barriers and spread acceptance as we all come together to celebrate the coming of spring and new colors.

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