Colored festival launches spring
A display of color and unity spread across Lynn Eusen Park as students celebrated the start of spring and the Hindu festival, Holi, on Sunday.
The festival, hosted by the Hindu Students Association in conjunction with the Indian Students Association and Graduate Indian Students Association, drew out a crowd of over a hundred students who threw colored powder, or “rang,” and water balloons at each other.
“The colors symbolize unity and brotherhood,” said Disha Desai, pharmacy graduate student and HSA president. “It breaks all the barriers of discrimination, because everyone looks the same when he or she is fully colored.”
In accordance with the Hindu lunar calendar, Holi is celebrated on the last full moon day in the month of Phalgun, which typically falls during February or March.
It is a celebration that signifies the start of spring and also the destruction of the demoness Holika.
According to Hindu myth, Prahlada, the son of the great king of demons, worshiped the Lord Vishnu. This angered his father, so he ordered his sister to burn Prahlada. This attempt proved to be unsuccessful as Holika, who had a boon to remain unharmed by the fire, was set ablaze while Prahlada survived.
“Holi is celebrated to prove that good wins over evil — always,” Desai said.
As music blasted through the park, students danced, enjoyed the food and even played a game of tug-of-war.
Although this was the first Holi experience for many students from different backgrounds, they were no strangers to Holi.
History freshman Abish Turnblom and her boyfriend Gregory Cobbs, a Trinity University graduate, had a basic understanding of the festival and were looking forward to the celebration.
“I knew that I would have a chance to hurl colorful (powder) at a crowd of people. This was pretty much all I needed for motivation to come out and give it a shot,” Cobbs said.
English literary studies senior Sarah Anderson, who had heard about the festival from her friends, was eager to come out and celebrate.
“I like to put myself in positions where I can be part of the minority because I think that it is an important experience for me as a current citizen and a future teacher,” Anderson said. “I love the chance to experience new things that are influenced by such rich religions and cultural histories.”
This is the inaugural year for HSA as an organization at UH, and the first time it has organized a Holi festival for UH. The last time Holi was celebrated on campus was 2009.
Desai was impressed with the turnout this year and hopes to turn this event into an annual celebration at UH.
“Being a new organization and hosting Holi for the first time, we were able to put up a successful and fun event,” she said. “I am very proud of my officers and we promise to throw an even better and a bigger Holi next year.”
Cobbs enjoyed his first Holi experience and said it will definitely not be his last.
“The festival itself was amazing,” Cobbs said. “Everyone in attendance was wonderful and welcoming of the non-Hindus who came out to participate in the festivities.”
Anderson expressed excitement at seeing people of different religious and cultural backgrounds celebrating together.
“It is a wonderful thing for people to come together in such respectful and joyful context,” said Anderson. “This festival was a perfect picture of the culture that the University of Houston has cultivated.”