Calvin College Chimes

Calvin celebrates first Holi spring festival

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Music blasted, colors flew, and water sprayed at Calvin’s first Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors. The South Asian Student Association (SASA) celebrated Calvin’s first ever Holi festival on Saturday, April 21st.

The festival of Holi celebrates the arrival of spring. Fortunately, warmer weather on Saturday reflected the celebration’s focus on the change of seasons.

Throughout the celebration students threw brightly pigmented colors at each other and sprayed one another with water guns. Later students threw water balloons, blending the colors already sprinkled into their hair and clothing.

Although the festival is now mostly a cultural aspect of India, Holi does have its roots in Hinduism.

“It’s tricky,” explained senior Shiny Samuel, “it is a religious festival in India, [but] now it’s more of just a cultural festival.”  Samuel continued, “In India, a lot of the festivals are religious, but are also cultural.”

“There is a religious aspect to it,” commented sophomore Sebastian Jala, “But a lot of non-Hindu people play the festival as well.”

Holi is not just something celebrated, it’s something played, like a game, often ending in a tug-o-war.

Jala spoke about Holi being a festival that unites. People of all religions, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, gather in the streets and play every year in India.

“The reason why we wanted to have the event was because we wanted to show the cultural aspect of it; bringing the Indian/South Asian culture to Calvin,” Jala explained.

SASA scattered bags of colored powder across the lawn. Students grabbed a handful and chased down their friends, smearing the bright colors into clothes and hair. Others splashed and sprayed with water guns. By the end, everyone was soaked and pigmented from head to toe.

The festival was open for all, and students passing by joined in the color fight on a whim. Hemi Kong, a sophomore spoke about her experience with Holi saying, “It’s been really fun! I’ve been meeting a lot of people who I wouldn’t have met. It was also fun to catch up with people I haven’t been with in a while.”

For Anne Kuiper, a first-year and international student from the Netherlands, this was her first encounter with the Festival of Colors. She stated, “I’d heard about it. And I have a friend in India and she did it, but I’ve never done it before.”

Kuiper smiled as she recalled throwing the colors and listening to the cheerful music:

“I like fact that they celebrate spring because spring is the season of new life. The color makes it very lively.”

Kuiper said she would definitely participate in Holi again, hoping more people will do it next year so she can celebrate the festival with her friends.  

Leaders of SASA called a momentary truce amidst the fight, so the whole group could take a picture. As students smiled, Calvin College’s first Holi was captured in a photograph.

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