Holi celebrates color, community


Constance Sarantos

People celebrating Holi at the FAR fields on April 21. The event will take place on Saturday, and all students are welcome to attend.

By Nandika Chatterjee, Staff Writer

Asha for Education celebrates every year with handfuls of color, all for a good cause.

This organization promotes basic education for poor and underprivileged children in India. The chapter on campus hold events throughout the year, and their biggest event is Holi. It will take place Saturday at the Florida and Lincoln playing field from 12 to 5 p.m.

Holi is the Indian festival of colors. The entire celebration will be filled with vibrant colors with food, dance and playing with color itself. Various Indian dance groups at the University such as Ghungroo Dance Company, UIUC Fataaka, Zindaa and Colors of Faith will perform.

The celebrations every year give any student at the University the opportunity to learn more about Indian culture and share the joys of the festivities. Additionally, Asha as an organization can forward their goals for their nonprofit.

Niti Shah, chapter coordinator of Asha for Education UI, said, “Individuals who attend our event can rest assured that they will be able to experience traditional and modern dance performances, taste authentic Indian cuisine and snacks and engage in the color-throwing tradition unique to Holi, all while supporting a global organization that is dedicated to increasing educational accessibility.”

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    Celebrating Holi holds different appeals to different people. Medha Patil,  freshman in LAS, will attend the event.

    “I really look forward to the festival of Holi as playing with colors with friends and family is always fun,” she said. “With great music to dance to and wonderful food to go back to, Holi is the ultimate Indian party.”

    The festivities invite large groups of students regardless of their ethnic background. Joining in on having a good time increases a sense of community among students.

    Shah said the most enjoyable part of the celebrations is the opportunity to engage in a unique and large-scale event that invites the entire community to join together and celebrate.

    She describes the experience as fulfilling to attend and watch. Shah said it doesn’t matter what year in school attendees are.

    “Whether you are a freshman and this (is) your first chance to attend Holi or a senior who has never attended the event and everyone in between this truly is an event for everyone,” Shah said.

    Patil said the impact such initiatives have on international students is important. It makes campus feel more like home away from home. Fellow attendees become family, and everyone has the opportunity to meet new people, she said.

    “Being so far from home in India, it’s so great that Asha foundation has an event where I can enjoy the festival of Holi in spite of not being in India,” Patil said. “It’s a great way to spread our Indian culture, especially for a good cause.”

    Cynthia Damodaran, freshman in Engineering, is an international student who will also be in attendance. She does not regularly celebrate Holi but described her excitement to participate in the celebrations.

    “I don’t really subscribe to the religious or spiritual aspects of the holiday, but I enjoy the spirit of the occasion, and I certainly appreciate the environment in which everyone is encouraged to let their inner child out” Damodaran said.

    For anyone who has not participated in Holi, they are encouraged to try something new.

    “Not only will you have a great time throwing colors around while dancing along to a fusion of Bollywood and Top 50 hits,” she said, “You will also be providing several children in India the opportunity to learn and grow to become the next thinkers and leaders of their generation. It is a win-win for everyone.”

    Yingan Wang, freshman in LAS, has never celebrated the festival before. She is an international student from China and is excited to celebrate Holi for the first time.

    “I will celebrate Holi this year because my friends are Indian, and they celebrate this,” she said. “For me, a Chinese (person), it’s very similar (to) celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year with my friends with other backgrounds: a festival, a bunch of friends and a reason to hang out together.”

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