UMD’s Holi Celebration Brings Color and Craze

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By Iman Smith, Bloc Reporter

This university’s Holi 2014 Festival on April 6 decorated McKeldin Mall with a myriad of vibrant color and traditional dance.

The festival originated in Punjab, India and celebrates the triumph of good over evil, said Shradha Sahani, secretary and webmaster of this university’s Hindu Student Council Executive Board.

“I used to live in India,” Sahani said. “On Holi, [even] weeks before, everywhere you went was color. It’s really intense.”

The throwing of colored power signifies life, love and the blooming of flowers when spring arrives, Sahani said.

Lakshmi Kirkire, service chair for HSC, said the council wants to acquaint the university with tradition through Holi celebration.

“We basically are trying to bring that [Holi] here,” Kirkire said, “so people can understand what Hindu culture is and how it relates back to the religion.”

Naveed Nadjmabadi, a senior computer science major, said attending events like Holi help to de-stress students.

“It takes the edge off school,” Nadjmabadi said. “It’s a really relaxing event and it’s great to see all these people having fun.”

With temperatures in the high 50s, students wore shorts and tank tops, making the festival resemble a beach bloc party.

“It was fun to dance and listen to the music and be out in the sun,” said Hannah Hensman, a senior math major. “You’re not throwing powder at your own friends. You get to interact with other people too.”

Students wore white clothing to better depict the colored powder and danced barefoot at the two-hour event.

Organizers offered $2 white HSC T-shirts and students sported multicolored masks of blue, pink, yellow and purple. HSC coordinated the event.

Mixed Sound Entertainment’s DJ Kush played “Bhangra,” a traditional form of dance and music originating from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan.

Aspects of the Bhangra dance rely on improvisation.

“There are moves associated with it but it’s kind of like hip-hop,” Sahani said. “You can do your own thing.”

Students integrated Bhangra with today’s pop culture dances such as “The Wobble,” forming a cultural mosh pit on the mall.

Ryan Kapoor, a senior business major at George Washington University, played a “dhol,” a drum traditionally used in Bhangra to excite an audience.

“It’s played with fast paced beats and can accompany any social event,” Kapoor said. “It’s popular worldwide nowadays.”

Sahani said preparation for the event began in January, regarding booking the mall, hiring the DJ and ordering the powder from India.

About 400 people attended Holi, a lower gathering compared to last year.

Suppliers crafted the powder, traditionally fashioned from flowers, “from a lot of dyes to get the bright colors,” Sahani said.

For Sahani, the awareness of Hinduism, a religion practiced primarily in India, makes Holi imperative to the College Park community.

“We just want to spread the actual true meaning behind the things that we do celebrate,” she said. “We think that’s important.”

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