Holi festival forgoes traditional gulal throw, stays positive

Olivia Sanderson

This year, student organiztions held an annual Holi celebration on Wednesday, April 7 outside the Main Building on campus. The event was organized by the Student Activities Board (SAB) in collaboration with the Indian Student Association (ISA). The two groups have worked to bring back the yearly celebration after having to cancel last year due to COVID-19.

“Everybody from campus comes out for Holi every year, and it’s always a lot of fun and usually we have food and it’s a great chance to share culture,” said ISA vice presidetn Niki Rajendran.

Holi is a traditional Hindu holiday signaling the beginning of springtime. Holi is also known as the festival of love and emphasizes uniting Hindu people with positivity. This ancient festival has been celebrated by people in India for centuries and is often recognized for its traditional throwing of color powdered at participants. Each region of India has a special meaning and purpose with their celebration, but the overwhelming feeling and enthusiasm is seen across the country and the world.

The Holi festival also is typically made up of multiple parts, starting on the evening of a full moon and carrying on until the end of the following day. The celebration held at UK does not follow the usual schedule but still brings the positive spirit of Holi to campus.

“This is my first time doing Holi, I’m a first year director and it’s all new, but SAB has done Holi in the past,” said SAB’s director of cultural affairs Anika Yadav.

This year, the festival had to make some adjustments to make the celebration COVID safe. It was held outside on the Main Lawn with spaced out tables filled with activities.

“I just really love the meaning behind it, it’s about a festival of spring and welcoming the new season in and I just think it’s really cool to be out here in great weather, celebrate Indian culture and I just love the community it brings,” Yadav said.

SAB and ISA set up tables for tie dying shirts leftover from last year’s cancellation as well. Yadav said that the tie dye is “kind of a way to substitute for the throwing colors event since we can’t do that with COVID.”

Instead of their usual color powder throwing, they provided bags of colors for students to take home and use to celebrate.

“We have pre-packaged color powder that they can take home and throw with their families or their friends in a safer environment instead of a big group,” Yadav said.

At another table there were colorful bangles, bindis and henna for people to take home and use. There were Indian snacks as well as speakers playing traditional Indian Holi music.

For ISA Graduate Ambassador Rashika Gupta, this was her first Holi outside of her home in northern India. Her favorite part of the festival in the past is “throwing the colors around.”