What better way to celebrate the coming of spring than to throw a little pink, blue and yellow powder all over a friend?
More than 250 students gathered at Old River Park Sunday, April 3, to celebrate Holi, a traditional Hindu festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. The festival is celebrated by throwing colored powder at friends and family, dancing and sharing Holi delicacies, food and drinks.
The Multicultural Programming Council spearheaded the organization of the event, with support from other student organizations and on-campus departments, including the Asian American Association, the Indian Student Association, the Center for International Programs and Campus Ministry.
“I’d never celebrated Holi here in the United States, but I have gone to a celebration back in India once and I thought it was awesome,” said senior Ashwin Sanker, president of the Asian American Association. “I thought it’d be a great opportunity at UD.”
According to the Society for Confluence of Festivals in India, Holi is considered one of the most revered and celebrated festivals of India. Also known as the Festival of Spring and the Festival of Colors, Holi is a spring festival with Hindu origins and ancient rituals and traditions rooted in Hinduism. It is most popular in India, but it is also celebrated in Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other areas around the world.
“The nature of Holi’s celebration varies from region to region,” said Crystal Caruana Sullivan, executive director of Campus Ministry. “Its rich history means an enduring rejoice of love, color, spring and all things good and happy.”
Sanker said the idea for UD’s Holi celebration started at another event hosted by the AAA for the Lunar New Year, when he spoke with sophomore Elizabeth Philip, the current Asian American Pacific Islander Committee chair with the Multicultural Programming Council.
Philip, an Indian American, had been interested in hosting a Holi event since coming to UD.
“My one thing about college was that I’ve always just wanted to go to one of these Holi events because I always see other friends hosting their own schools’ Holi,” Philip said. “So [at UD] there’s not much of an Indian population, at least with undergraduates, so I thought this was my chance to do it.”
At the event, open to all students, students enjoyed a photo booth, music, dancing and Indian food catered by local Indian restaurant Ajanta India. Organizers also made a large sheet sign that read “Happy Holi.” Students dipped their hands in color powder and marked the sheet with colorful handprints.
“This was probably my favorite event so far this semester — it was great time.”
“I oversee a lot of the events that we (the AAA) do,” Sanker said. “This has probably been my favorite event so far this semester — it was great time.”
Sanker said as the event began, organizers invited everyone to eat, and just as everyone was finishing their meal, a color throwing started.
“Out of nowhere, people just started throwing colors everywhere, and it was just a mosh pit of colors being thrown for like the next hour to an hour and a half,” said Sanker.
Philip agreed that UD’s Holi event lived up to its celebration of all things happy and joyful.
“Seeing the joy on everyone’s faces when we were throwing all the colors — everyone was smiling, everyone was laughing, everyone was having a good time,” Philip said. “That joy just carried on for the entire event.”
Both Sanker and Philip said they hope to make Holi an annual University of Dayton event.
Photos and video by Ifeanyichukwu Nwanoro ’23.