Holi festival brings people together in a colorful way

Students throw colored powder at each other during a celebration for the Indian festival of Holi put on by the Indian Students’ Association on April 21. at the central lawn in Frederiksen Court. 

Zhe (Mia) Wang

Hundreds of students and faculty took over Frederiksen Court’s central lawn on Saturday morning to celebrate Holi, also known as the holiday of color, and painted the town rainbow.

Holi is the spring festival in India. It celebrates the victory of good over evil, the beginning of spring and the success of harvest season. It’s also seen as a great opportunity to make new friends and repair broken relationships.

During Holi in India, people play traditional Indian music and sing and dance. They go out to the streets and spray colored powder on each other to show their blessings. Some mix water with the powder and drench those around them.

The actual Holi festival was celebrated over a month ago in India, but in Ames, it was too cold for students to have an outdoor celebration — especially with water. So, the Indian Students’ Association (ISA) members decided to host the event in late April.

For this year’s Holi celebration, organizers from ISA followed the Indian tradition. They prepared corn flour mixed with organic, environmental friendly dye and buckets of water for attendees.

Yash Solanki, junior in biology and president of ISA, said Holi is one of the most significant holidays in India, and it’s the perfect event for college students to attend, because everyone will enjoy throwing colorful powder on each other and having a water fight.

“Everyone can have fun in this event, whether they know the story behind it or not,” Solanki said. “And it’s nice for students to have a fun, carefree weekend before dead week.”

The celebration started at 9:30 a.m. Everyone was covered with colored powder the first 30 minutes of the event.

Attendees said one of the biggest benefits of the event is to help domestic students and other countries’ international students to familiarize with Indian culture through an entertaining way.

Khoi Cao is a senior in computer engineering, and he’s from Vietnam. He came to the event with curiosity and the intention to learn more about Indian culture.

“I want to find out what’s happening in this event and the reason they use colored powder in a holiday celebration,” Cao said.

Saturday’s event also attracted several faculty members. Cindy Gould is an associate professor in the college of design. Gould has visited India 12 times but never had the chance to experience Holi due to her academic schedule.

“It’s fantastic to actually experience it in Ames,” Gould said. “It’s a way for this cross-cultural opportunity to have fun.”

Praveen Singh Rathore is from Rajasthan, India. He works as a research assistant at Iowa State.

“Holi is a holiday for every community, for every religion, for every skin[color],” Rathore said. “In this day, we would all have colorful faces. So, there is no differentiation between one another.”

After the powder throwing and water fight, ISA members served traditional Indian snacks and beverages at an affordable price to all attendees.

“More than 250 people participated in today’s event,” Solanki said. “The water balloon was a big hit. Everyone seems to have enjoyed it a lot. I think it’s a great success.”