The Hindu Students Organization is bringing more than 1,500 pounds of paint to Pupin Plaza for this Saturday’s Holi celebration.
“Be prepared, two months down the line, if you’re at a doctor’s visit and there’s red paint in your ears,” HSO board member Rithu Ramachandran, CC ’12, said. “It happens.”
Holi, which is also called the Festival of Colors, was officially on March 8. People traditionally celebrate by throwing colored powder at each other.
The Hindu holiday, which marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, has come to symbolize the superiority of good over evil.
The festival is named after the demon Holika, who, as the traditional story goes, was the sister of a demon king who wanted his son Prahlada dead. After many failed attempts to kill Prahlada, the king asked Holika to kill him. Holika, who was immune to fire, tried to sit with Prahlada in the middle of a fire, but the God Vishnu—to whom Prahlada prayed regularly—protected him, and Holika was killed instead.
“It’s a testament to worship and the power of god to protect you,” HSO co-coordinator Rohit Iragavarapu, CC ’12, said.
Still, HSO members emphasize that Holi is not only a religious celebration. Ramachandran said that even in India, religion has taken a back seat to celebrating.
“I think now one of the bigger significances of Holi is really the idea of equalizing. It’s a great equalizer,” she said.
“Especially given caste, socioeconomics, and all of those conditions in India … you have a time to forget those boundaries and barriers, and everybody comes together as one people,” she added. “And I think that’s great, especially now.”
Students of all faiths are free to attend HSO events, and board members hope that, no matter their background, they will leave with more knowledge about Hinduism and its culture.
“One of our mandates, if nothing else, is about spreading awareness about Hinduism, educating people about our traditions, our philosophies,” Iragavarapu said. “I think we live in a changing world, and it’s important for us to kind of spread a common understanding of our traditions. And Holi is fun.”
Iragavarapu also had some words of advice for students planning to attend the celebration.
“We order 1,500 pounds of paint, more or less, and we tie it to little sandwich baggies, and what people should absolutely not do is throw the entire bag,” Iragavarapu said. “That’s very painful. And it’s also a waste of paint.”