Students celebrate HOLI

Josh Birnbaum The Daily Illini Josh Birnbaum

Josh Birnbaum The Daily Illini Josh Birnbaum

By Sam Cowin

The Hindu Students Council hosted its annual HOLI celebration Sunday at the Illini Grove.

Participants chased each other through the park with colored paint, water balloons and water guns. Music also blared in the background as participants broke into small groups to perform traditional dances.

The event was planned and promoted by members of the Hindu Students Council. They posted flyers, sent e-mails and made T-shirts to raise awareness of the festival on campus.

Akhil Shah, senior in LAS and president of the Hindu Students Council, said the organization aimed to attract both Indians and non-Indians to the HOLI celebration.

According to the India Express Web site, HOLI commemorates a Hindu myth in which a young boy worships a lord other than his father, the King. His father resents this and tries to kill his son, but the young boy survives.

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Pooja Merai, sophomore in LAS, said the HOLI myth celebrates the triumph of good over evil.

Today, Indians throughout the world use the holiday as an excuse to celebrate spring and spend time with friends.

Shah said the HOLI celebration is a great way for students of all different ethnicities and religions to end the year and celebrate with friends.

“You put the colors on and everyone looks the same,” said Alka Gupta, junior in LAS and vice president of the Hindu Students Council. “It is an opportunity for all cultures to come together and appreciate each other.”

Samir Mirza, senior in Engineering, said participants recognized the religious meaning of HOLI, but many just came to relax with friends before finals and enjoy the weather.

“It’s a holy festival, but it is also a fun time to be messy and have fun right before finals,” Mirza said. “I’m actually Christian, but people here are pretty open.”

This was the first exposure to the celebration for some participants.

Karl Dach-Gruschow, graduate student, said he had seen HOLI celebrations but never actually participated in one.

Susan Johnson-Roehr, graduate student, said she heard about the event in one of her classes and decided to experience HOLI for the first time.

As the celebration came to a close and the paint ran out, most participants found themselves covered in an array of colors.

“If you’re not dirty at the end, you leave feeling like you didn’t do anything,” Shah said.