Holi 2018 brings color and culture to ASU and beyond

Sigma Lambda Beta and the Indian Student Association are celebrating Holi on campus to promote cultural awareness

Organizations on campus are working to promote cultural awareness by bringing all of the color and festivities of the traditional Indian holiday of Holi to ASU.

Also known as the festival of colors, Holi traditionally honors the beginning of Spring and the triumph of good over evil.

Members of the community gather to dance, socialize and throw colored powder on each other in celebration, leaving festival-goers covered in an array of vibrant colors. 

The holiday is traditionally observed each year on the Purnima, or Full Moon Day, of March, according to the Hindu calendar. This year Holi takes place from the evening of March 1 to March 2. However, celebrations take place all through February and March. 

While Holi is still widely celebrated as a religious festival in India, the celebration has been adopted for different reasons all around the world.

The Indian Student Association has hosted Holi celebrations on campus for over 10 years and this year is collaborating with the Coalition of International Students, Residence Hall Association and Unified Society of South Asians to put on their annual celebration on Saturday March 17.

Read more: The Council of Coalitions works to advance diversity at ASU

Jayesh Chaurasia, president of ISA and an industrial engineering graduate student, said the event has drawn large, diverse crowds in previous years and is expected to have upwards of 1,000 attendees this year. 

Chaurasia said Holi is always one of ISA’s biggest events as Indian and non-Indian students alike are enticed by the fun, energetic atmosphere and the opportunity to enjoy the culture of India. 

“The most attractive thing for all of the students is always the Indian food,” Chaurasia said.

He said bringing the celebration to ASU helps international students feel more at home and teaches other students about the culture of so many of their peers in an environment that brings the community together. 

The ISA is not alone in its endeavor to educate students about the unique cultural festival. Sigma Lambda Beta, the historically Latino-based international fraternity, hosted its second annual Holi celebration on Feb. 24. 

Alex Evangelista, informatics junior and cultural chair for the ASU chapter of Sigma Lambda Beta, said he was inspired to plan the event after participating in previous Holi celebrations.

“I want everyone to experience the joy of Holi and feel the atmosphere,” Evangelista said. 

At the Holi event on Feb. 24 at Palo Verde Beach in Tempe, a DJ played a wide variety of music ranging from hip-hop to traditional Indian songs while attendees launched dye and water balloons at each other.

Evangelista said teaching the participants about the traditions and culture of Holi was also a key aspect of the event. 

“This isn’t just some festival with music,” Evangelista said. “I want people to enjoy and appreciate the culture.” 

Dominic Manola, geographic information science senior, said he was proud to be a part of a fraternity that promotes cultural awareness on campus. 

“We (Sigma Lambda Beta) are one of the most diverse groups here on campus, and it is all about sharing that with the community — that is what we are here for,” Manola said. 

Aside from providing a space for students to take a break from studying and have a good time with friends, these events function as a representation of the ASU's charter, which states that the University's success is "measured not by whom it excludes, but by whom it includes." 

“We want to show that ASU does live by that principle,” Chaurasia said. 

Outside of ASU, different groups around the Valley will be hosting their own Holi celebrations, including AZGoshala, which will be holding an event on March 4.

Regardless of a student's race or knowledge of Indian culture, Holi is a festival that is all about love, celebration and community for all to enjoy.

“If you don’t know what it is, come and you will find out. If you know what Holi is, come and celebrate. If you have already enjoyed Holi before, come and enjoy it again,” Chaurasia said.

Reach the reporter at goldham@asu.edu and follow @graceoldham123 on Twitter. 

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