Bring out the colors of life

+A+student+celebrates+Holi+outside+Grossman+House+during+last+year%E2%80%99s+event.+%5BPhoto+courtesy+of++Chuck+Zovko%2C+Communications+Division+%5D

A student celebrates Holi outside Grossman House during last year’s event. [Photo courtesy of Chuck Zovko, Communications Division ]

The history of Holi and how this Hindu celebration migrated to campus

In an annual tradition, the Lafayette community will gather on the Quad to celebrate Holi with Indian food and music, along with 450 pounds of powder paint.

Holi is the Hindu Spring festival of color and will take place tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.

Holi at Lafayette represents Grossman House’s goal of “finding interactive ways to get the campus community engaged,” said Matthew Schultheiss ’15, who organized the event with NamrataJoshi  ‘16.

Holi began as a holiday primarily observed in Northern India where there are strict ways in which people must interact socially, according to Visiting Professor of Religious Studies Herma Tull. In particular, there is a lot of repression of women, as they’re expected to stay in the home.

But, on Holi, all that changes.

“Holi is the day where everyone can do whatever they want with no repercussions,”Tull said.

Holi is comparable to Mardi Gras, according to Tull and Joshi, in that everyone is outside of their homes and the celebrations can become extreme. Oftentimes, women are seen hitting their husbands, though the intentions are not ill-spirited. It’s all in good fun, according to Joshi.

“Because it’s all about happiness and colors and it’s beautiful, other cultures and places have adapted the idea, so it’s not just Hindus who do this anymore,”Joshi said.

Other communities, like Lafayette, have begun to replicate these traditions. However, Lafayette does not observe Holi in the exact same ways as Northern India. In India, the festival begins with a bonfire that includes the worship and prayer aspects of the festival.

Based on the community, there are different mythologies surrounding Holi. However, the central aspect of the festival is the ritual of reversal and breaking boundaries, according to Tull.

As students will see on Saturday, before throwing the paint into the air, students will say “Holi hai,”which means “it’s Holi.”The expression “bhuranamano, Holi hai”meaning “nothing personal, it’s Holi”encompasses the central purpose of Holi—to make amends.

Student Movement Against Cancer is also holding their Color Run right before the Holi festival. When students arrive at the festival, there will be a few moments of explanation about the history of Holi before it begins.

“We made this the day of color because non-Hindus also celebrate Holi,”Joshi said.“We wanted everyone to know the roots of this holiday so in their hearts they know what it’s about, but also enjoy themselves.”

Students are encouraged wear white clothes—so the colors standout—that they do not mind getting powder paint on.

Tomorrow the Color Run begins at 3:30 p.m. and Holi begins at 4:30 p.m. on the Quad the event will go until 6 p.m.