Wesleyan Celebrates Holi, Festival of Colors
The University’s first official celebration of Holi took place Friday, April 27 on Foss Hill. Shakti, the South Asian Student Association, presented the event, which was sponsored by the Adelphic Fund, Tandoor and Haveli Indian Restaurants in Middletown, Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD), and the Student Budget Committee (SBC).
Holi, known as the Festival of Colors, is a celebration of spring. It is a Hindu holiday, primarily observed in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal. In recent years other colleges, such as Tufts University, Carnegie Mellon University, and George Washington University, have adopted the tradition of celebrating Holi each spring.
“Holi is celebrated by people throwing colored powder at one another,” said Katherine Yagle ’12, a member of Shakti who helped organize Friday’s event. “[During the festival] in India everyone is intoxicated. There is a lot of dancing, music, and general chaos. People use water balloons and water guns to douse each other with color.”
Shakti organizer, and leader of Holi planning, Anika Amin ’14 expressed that the celebration of Holi will further the association’s mission of exposing the Wesleyan community to South Asian culture.
“We want to keep students involved in, and aware of, our culture by allowing them opportunities to participate in interesting and fun activities,” Amin said. “People are often under the impression that the association is limited to Indian-American students. We want the community to know we are a club open to all South Asian Culture enthusiasts. Holi is a festival that everyone can enjoy.”
Though Shakti has tried to organize an official campus-wide celebration of Holi in the past, a lack of initiative, leadership, and group members inhibited the organization’s execution of the holiday. This year, however, an increase in Shakti membership and enthusiasm acted as impetus for the celebration of Holi.
“I was shocked that Wesleyan had not had a real celebration of Holi before,” Yagle said. “I chose to study abroad in India during the spring semester because of Holi. It was truly one of the best days of my entire life. When I came back to Wesleyan, I wanted to be a part of organizing a lasting tradition of Holi on campus.”
For the event, Shakti booked Foss Hill from 3:30-5:30 p.m., confirmed a sound stage and DJ, sold 100 white T-shirts, and divided 40,000 grams of different colored powders. Each student who purchased a shirt received two bags of powder, and students who wore their own white shirt to the event received one bag of powder.
“Holi is something every person should experience,” Yagle said. “It is a holiday every Wesleyan student should, and will, love.”
Becky Tickaram ’15, a Shakti member, shared a similar enthusiasm for Holi.
“When else will you have the chance to tie-dye your friends with explosions of color?” she said. “This type of celebration does not just happen anywhere.”