The Arts Quad erupted into clouds of color as an estimated 2,000 attendees threw “rang” — colored powder made of corn starch and non-toxic, organic dyes — to celebrate Holi.
The Hindu festival dates back to at least the 4th century to celebrate the arrival of spring, according to CNN. The ancient spring celebration originally from India is now practiced across the world, including here at Cornell.
Members of the Hindu Student Council, the organization hosting the event, hoped that the celebration can add color to people’s life at Cornell, both literally and metaphorically.
“At a university where it’s cold and grey all the time, an event like this really lifts people’s spirits,” said Brinda Gurumoorthy ’18, HSC board member.
Emily Martin grad said she came to the event as it was listed as a must-do for Cornellians on 161 Things Every Cornellian Should Do.
“I really enjoy seeing other people in my program out, having fun, in a non-academic environment,” she said.
For students from India, the event is also a opportunity for them to “reconnect with a piece of home” and share their culture with friends of different background, according to Kumar Nadanampati ’20, HSC board member.
“I love seeing many people from different cultures coming together to celebrate something I love,” said Kanha Matai ’21.
The event brought “memories of home,” according to Vivek Iyer, an applications systems analyst at the Cornell Center for Materials Research, who took his children to the event.
“It’s just a slice of what millions of people celebrate in India,” he told The Sun.
The well-attended event is the outcome of extensive preparation by the council spanning months, starting immediately after winter break according to Kimaya Raje ’20, HSC president. The process included applying for funding, obtaining permits, advertising, ordering supplies and guaranteeing crowd safety.
“We’re really excited to put Holi on at Cornell, but it is a big event that requires a lot of planning and preparation,” Raje said.
Gurumoorthy said that this year’s Holi is the best she has experienced, crediting their teamwork for the success.
“Because we’re such a large team and we’re all good friends, we can get through whatever hurdles come our way,” Nadanampati said.
As the event shifts from a religious tradition to a cultural event in India, its origin, HSC members hope that everyone can enjoy the celebration of “spring, life and color,” regardless of their race and ethnicity.
“The spirit of Holi is very inclusive. Anyone can get color on anyone. It shows that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from. Everyone can rejoice in this,” Raje said.