Surrounded by laughter and smiles, UConn’s annual Holi festival returned on April 16. Holi is a festival from the Hindu religion celebrating the arrival of spring. This year the Holi festival fell on March 8 globally, but was celebrated in April at UConn. The event was hosted by the Indian Student Association and the Middle Eastern Cultural Programs and took place on the CLAS quad from noon to 5 p.m.
“Both of us came to it on Instagram because we follow the Indian Student Association,” Kavya Krishna, a sixth-semester cognitive science major, said. “This is a festival we celebrate back home. It’s the festival of colors — it’s a lot of fun, and we just wanted to come and celebrate and see how it’s celebrated here.”
Though the holiday originates from the Hindu religion, the Holi festival is celebrated around the globe. According to Selenat Debebe in an article titled, “Holi 2022: When is it celebrated and what is the festivity about?,” besides India, Holi is celebrated in other South Asian countries including Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh. People who are followers of Hinduism abroad have also spread Holi to countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
“It’s a little different where I’m from because I’m from Nepal, not India,” Krishna said. “It’s a little bit different there but it’s mostly the same, like colors, music — there’s a lot of dancing, a lot of just hanging out with your friends.”
The Holi festival at UConn was free of cost and open to anyone who wanted to partake in the festivities. The colored powder was distributed in plastic cups that people can freely take and throw at each other. There were also water guns and a rope where students played tug of war. Many students were seen taking pictures and running after one another with the colored powder in their hands.
Besides celebrating the end of the winter season, the Holi festival celebrates good over evil. There are many origin stories of the Holi festival. One popular story is explained in an article written by Abhishyant Kidangoor titled, “Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors.”
The story is about god Vishnu and King Hiranyakashyapu. King Hiranyakashyapu told his sister, Holika, to kill his son because he worshipped Vishnu. At the moment when King Hiranyakashyapu’s son was about to get burned alive by the demon Holika, Vishnu came in and saved him. Holika was then burned instead. This is why bonfires are sometimes seen during Holi, according to the article.
Despite rising COVID-19 cases, Hindus in India still celebrated the festival in 2021, according to an article titled, “Holi 2021 Celebration Today: Follow These COVID-19 Guidelines to Play Safe Holi,” written by the Times of India. Those who took part in the event were encouraged to wear masks, maintain distance and stay in small groups. People even created a wooden sculpture of COVID-19 as the symbol of Holika, which was burned during the festival.
“It was good — my first Holi event was during COVID so there were less people, but I still had fun and it was a good time,” Ishan Bansal, a sixth-semester student said. “I would say the one this year is better than last year because there are more people.”
According to an article titled “Significance of Holi,” Holi is a holiday that unites people. Even people who don’t follow the Hindu faith come to celebrate the holiday. During the evening, people visit relatives to exchange gifts and greetings. Holi is a holiday when enemies and hardships are forgotten. During the festival, people ignore social status and wealth. According to the article, Holi creates a great sense of unity regardless of your background.