On April 28, the Hindu Students Community will be hosting a festival to celebrate the coming of spring and the Hindu tradition of Holi. It will be held at 2:30 p.m. at Tegeler Field, and there will be over 9,000 water balloons, inflatable pools and colored powder, all imported from India. In each of the past few years, over 200 people attended the event, and it’s completely free to everyone.
Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun, which is the month of March in the Gregorian calendar. Deval Patel, president of the Hindu Students Community said that the event will be held in late April, rather than in March, due to the weather. “Since we are working with water balloons, colors and outdoor activities, we wanted adequate temperatures so that it would be enjoyable for everyone,” Patel said.
The name Holi originated from the name “Holika,” the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu. In one story from Hindu mythology, the demon king Hiranyakashipu tries to kill his son, Prahlad, who is a devout follower of Vishnu, a supreme god in Hinduism. The belief is that he incarnates on Earth from time to time as an avatar, to eradicate evil forces and to restore the Dharma that regulates the universe. Hiranyakashipu has a sister, Holika, who cannot be burned by fire. Hiranyakashipu tells Prahlad to sit with Holika in a burning fire and Prahlad obeys. Lord Vishnu protects Prahlad while Holika burns to death. This is why, often, effigies of Holika are burned during the celebration of Holi to signify the victory of good over evil. The festival commemorates Prahlad being saved.
Primarily, Holi celebrates the new season of spring, a time for new beginnings. “Holi symbolizes the colors of spring, and the fact that winter is finally over. Everyone wears white, and each color means something different,” Patel said. Other stories of Holi say it is a celebration of the love between Radha and Krishna and marks the coming of spring. Radha and Krishna are the combination of both the feminine and the masculine aspects of God in the faith tradition. The different colors that people play with and cover each other with symbolize the colors of spring.
The festivities are delightful and bring together the whole community: young and old, men and women, and different castes.