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Students learn about, celebrate Indian festival of colors

Campus Life Mar 27, 2024
A group picture of people with colored powder
IU Kokomo celebrates Holi. More pictures here

KOKOMO, Ind. — Students, faculty, and staff at Indiana University Kokomo came together in a global celebration of spring and joined millions of Indians in commemorating Holi, the festival of colors.

Students and faculty members from India led the festivities, providing cultural background and information, and inviting students to take part in the throwing of colored powder on one another.

“We wanted to bring everyone together,” said Dhivya Balabascarin, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student from India. “We usually celebrate this festival at home. We wanted to share it with everyone here, to contribute to diversity.”

Kadir Ali Sirajuddeen, also an MBA student, said the festival celebrates the diversity of India, a country with 1.4 billion people, nearly 400 languages, and many religions. While Holi started as a Hindu celebration, it’s now celebrated by people of all backgrounds in his country.

“Holi unites everyone,” he said. “It’s a Hindu celebration that people everywhere celebrate. It shows how diverse people from different languages and cultures can come together.”

Lalatendu Acharya, assistant professor of health sciences, noted that Holi originated as a festival in northern India, but now is a cultural event for people from all over the country.

“Holi is a festival that has transcended religious boundaries over the years,” he said. “It’s not about the Hindu festival anymore, it’s a community festival where people have fun.”

After learning the history and background of Holi and sampling Indian cookies, students continued the celebration outdoors, running in the grass by the Well House, and throwing nontoxic colored powder at one another, with traditional Indian music in the background.

Senior Brittney Goodrich attended because she thought it would be fun to participate in the color throwing. She was surprised to learn about the diversity in India.

She said it’s important to host events from other cultures because “when you spread awareness and multiculturalism, you cut back on hate.”

J.R. Pico, teaching professor in Spanish and Humanities, hosted the Holi celebration with his Folklore 101 class. An avid traveler, he learned about Holi during a long visit to India and wanted students to experience it.

“It’s important to share international traditions, celebrations, and ways of seeing the world,” he said. “This is the best way to teach diversity, equity, and inclusion, by having our international students share their stories and traditions.”

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