Clouds of colored powder puffed into the sky as laughter and ethnic music played, and grinning, brightly colored people smeared hues across strangers' faces. Every person’s outer identity was replaced with color, making them indistinguishable from one another — and with that, strangers seemed to become instant friends. “Happy Holi,” they told each other.
This ancient Hindu celebration of spring, color and love was celebrated on Hayden Lawn at the Tempe campus Saturday afternoon, as part of an event put on by the March of Dimes Collegiate Council, Maroon & Gold Ambassadors and the Unified Society of South Asians. The clubs combined efforts to educate and generate donations, in an eye-catching way, about premature birth.
Katrece Swenson, a biology and society junior and president of the March of Dimes Collegiate Council, said Holi was a perfect opportunity to get multiple clubs involved for a common goal.
“We really wanted to work with other organizations and it’s a really great visual event,” she said. “It gets people really engaged.”
The festivities started with an all purple round of color-throwing, to represent the March of Dimes’ signature color. Once participants were sufficiently covered in violet, event organizers brought out the remaining colors, packaged in small bags.
Swenson said she is passionate about the March of Dimes’s cause, because the organization provides needed hospital equipment, such as incubators, so premature babies can be treated properly.
“I was a premature baby myself, so it’s a cause that’s close to my heart,” she said. “They really have had a part in helping all premature babies out there.”
Political science senior Faryal Mushtaq, vice president of the March of Dimes Collegiate Council, said the colors of Holi represent all that her club is trying to accomplish.
“March of Dimes isn’t really known on campus, so all we’re trying to do is to raise money and to help the premature babies,” she said. “We’re trying to bring color into the lives of families with premature babies.”
Aashna Patel, an industrial design freshman, just started attending ASU in the spring semester after moving from India. She said the event was a great way to start off her career at ASU with a piece of home tradition.
“I miss Holi in my country,” she said. “(But) I’ll be here more and more, and I think this event will be even more fun with the friends I’ll make in the future.”
The event happens annually during the spring, though this year was the first time the March of Dimes Collegiate Council was involved. Participants did not need to be members of any of the involved clubs, and donations were appreciated but were not required.
Electrical engineering graduate student Namit Gopal said the event was a perfect way to have fun with strangers in a simple, joyous way.
“There is no discrimination,” he said. “Everybody’s just playing with colors. You don’t even need to know people’s names.”
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