April 30, 2007

Holi Festival Celebrates Beginning of Spring

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What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than by throwing colored powder at your friends?
The Hindu Student Council (HSC) hosted Holi 2007 on Saturday with food, music and lots of colored powder in the Anabel Taylor courtyard. Despite the less than perfect weather, nearly 600 students and Ithacans turned out for the event.
According to the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, Holi is a centuries-old Hindu festival celebrated in India to welcome the beginning of spring. There are a number of myths behind the celebration, but the ultimate moral of each of these myths is to show the value of truth in the triumph of good over evil.
Although Holi has a religious significance, its true purpose is to bring people together to celebrate.
“The essence of Holi is absolutely universal: there’s such a wonderful breaking of barriers when people from every kind of background come together to cover each other with every kind of color. It’s that spirit of unity that we always try to capture in our celebration at Cornell,” said Preeta Ragavan ’09, HSC president.
“Holi is an experience. It’s unbelievably fun, you have to participate init to see for yourself and it’s an active way to learn about another culture,” Ragavan said.
Green, blue, yellow and pink powder known as “rang” was distributed at the celebration. As music played in the background, attendees threw and smeared the powder on each other until they were fully covered. Afterwards, food that included samosas and Indian sweets was served.
Many of the students who attended the event enjoyed throwing the rang.
“I kind of like my jeans like this,” said Lauren Daniel ’09, an attendee completely covered in blue rang.
“I cannot stop laughing,” added Caroline Sheehan ’09.
Although the event ran smoothly, it was the result of months of planning and work for the HSC, which began planning Holi 2007 at the end of the fall semester. The HSC is an organization that represents the Hindu faith on campus and puts on cultural events like Holi.
Among the tremendous amount of work that went into planning the event, the HSC had to secure the venue, obtain noise permits from the mayor’s office and package the rang. For its fifth year, Holi was funded by six different organizations in addition to ticket sales. The cost of t-shirts, food and powder totaled $4,000 for the celebration.
According to Amit Chowdhry ’09, HSC internal vice president, however, Holi was worth the efforts and planning.
“The best part is being here and seeing it,” he said.
With such large crowds and event success, Holi is becoming a Cornell tradition.
“I see pictures of it every year, and it looks like so much fun. My favorite part was being able to throw things at people. I think everyone should do it at least one point in their Cornell career, “ said Patricia Lin ’08.
Saroj Kunnakkat ’08, HSC representative agreed, “My favorite part is seeing everyone in one place in a completely stress free mode.”