With the feet of snow piling higher and higher on campus, Colgate students are longing for warm sunshine, green grass and springtime. Recently, in celebration of this (hopefully) imminent change of seasons, the Hindu Student Association (HSA) held their fourth annual Festival of Holi celebration at the African, Latin, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center.
The HSA has been active on campus since 2002, organizing several events each year.
“We want to bring the Hindu festivals to campus so that the Colgate population will be familiar with them. This also lets the Hindu population on campus celebrate their festivals,” HSA member sophomore Basistha Joshi said.
Also known as the Festival of Colors, Holi serves not only as a celebration of the start of the spring season, but also as a prayer for a bountiful harvest. In addition, many stories are told that detail the role the gods play in this holiday.
On March 3, Colgate students, faculty and staff gathered in the ALANA center’s multi-purpose room and heard a presentation on the traditions of Holi from first-year Tushin Shah, then ate a big Indian dinner and headed outside to the front patio for a bonfire and the most distinctive part of Holi.
The main event at Colgate’s celebration came when the students threw colored rice flour — gulal — on each other. The gulal represents the bright hues that are characteristic of spring and gives the participants a tie-dyed appearance.
While the holiday has amusing and almost playful elements, every part is steeped in tradition. The two stories behind the celebration of Holi involve many of the Hindu gods. The origin of the colorful and happy tones of the Holi celebration centers on the boyhood pranks of Krishna, the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Drinking the bhaang is a very important tradition of the Holi springtime celebration as it is drunk as an offering to the god Shiva; however, the concoction was not consumed at Colgate’s celebration for legal reasons. Bhaang is an intoxicating, euphoric drink composed of milk, nuts, sugar, marijuana.
In addition to the Holi springtime festival, HSA also holds an annual Diwali, or festival of lights in the fall, as well as organizing events at a temple in Syracuse and participating in cookouts with interfaith groups at Colgate. There are approximately 20 active members and HSA is open to all Colgate students to join.