Holi Brings a Colorful Season

By Hanh DaoMaroon-News StaffThe Hindu Student Association at Colgate University celebrated Holi, one of the major Hindu festivals, at the ALANA Cultural Center last Saturday. A fun-filled celebration, the event started with a PowerPoint presentation about the festival. The presentation was prepared by junior Bickey Rimal and first-year Shreyas Mehta, and educated those in attendance about the celebration and the story of Holi, which is celebrated throughout the Indian subcontinent. Holi is one of the three most important festivals among Hindus, the others being Dushera and Diwali. It is celebrated a day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phagun, varying between February and March, and welcomes the start of the spring season. Unlike Diwali, which is more of a family affair, community is a central aspect of Holi. It is an ancient celebration in which there are festivities to celebrate the victory of “good over evil” by sprinkling colored water on others, feasting on dry colors in the form of “gulal” and distributing sweets. An interesting aspect of Holi is the popular consumption of “bhang” which consists of milk, nuts, sugar, marijuana and cannabis that gives a euphoric sensation. Bhang is consumed as an offering to Lord Shiva.The main legend behind Holi relates to a demon king, Hiranyakashyap, who was given a boon by Lord Shiva. The boon promised Hiranyakashyap that he would not die during the day or night, inside or outside of his house, or by man or animal. Upon receiving this boon, the king proclaimed himself God and stated that he would kill anyone who did not worship him. His own son, Prahlad, was a devotee of God who thus refused to worship his father as God. Holika, the king’s sister had a boon that she would not be affected by fire, so the king told her to take Prahlad in her lap and sit on a bonfire so that Prahlad would die. By God’s miracle, it was Holika who died, and Prahlad walked out unharmed. After this, when the king’s subjects cried for help against the king’s oppression, Lord Shiva sent the “Narsimha” avatar, which appeared as a half human-half lion from a pillar right at the doorstep of the king and killed him right at the moment of dusk. This allowed Lord Shiva to kill the demon king without breaking his promise. “We mainly organized this celebration for the members of the Hindu Student Association, the Interfaith council and the other religious groups,” President of the Hindu Student Association sophomore Abhinav Maheshwari said. “We also invited students from the CORE India class so that they can learn more about the culture of the region. We did not expect so many people, but it’s just great to see that people are so interested in such celebrations,” The event, funded by the Budget Allocation Committee and the Chaplaincy, was celebrated with Indian food from a restaurant in Syracuse. After dinner, people played with colors around the bonfire. Initially, only the members of the Hindu Student Association threw colors at each other, but other students and staff members soon joined in, celebrating the spirit of Holi. The evening turned out to be a memorable night for everyone involved.