Fresno State Holi festival celebrates start of spring

Fresno State’s J.E. O’Neill Park was the site of vibrancy and diversity on Saturday when the Indian Student Club (ISC) presented “Holi Festival Party.”

Holi is an annual festival in India that marks the start of spring while celebrating positive new beginnings in love, relationships and life in general.

“It’s a very important festival in India,” said ISC president Sidharth Magesh Kumar. “It’s the festival of colors.”

Holi is known as the “festival of colors” because it is tradition for everyone who celebrates to play with color. Festivalgoers smear each other with a natural color powder all while listening to music and eating food.

Students from Fresno State’s Indian Student Club throw colored powder as part of the Holi Festival Party at J.E. O’Neill Park on March 22, 2019. (Larry Valenzuela/The Collegian)

There is a significance to the festival. Kumar said, “Holi is supposed to be good over evil—that’s why we put colors on others.”

“If you have a grudge against someone, or if you have hatred over someone, you play Holi—you put colors on them,” Kumar went on to say. “It means that we are good now.“

Dawn James, member of ISC, who handles the club’s social medias, echoed Kumar’s thoughts on Holi.  “When you are applying color on someone, it symbolizes the fact that you are willing to forgive them and repair any relationship flaws you’ve had before, like a fresh start,” she said.

“Holi represents mostly peace, unity, forgiveness and joy,” James said.

For ISC member Sushanth Reddy, the festival represented freedom. “We put colors on our face to express our freedom,” he said.

Members from ISC said they believed it was vital to have a Holi celebration at Fresno State and for students to know the significance of the festival, whether they are Indian or not.

“We want everyone to join us and to see our Indian culture in this festival,” said ISC vice president Akash Prajapati.

“We want to celebrate it as a family, not just Indians,” said Kumar.

Holi is originally a Hindu religious festival but has become popular with non-Hindus and is celebrated all over the world.

James, for example, is a Christian, but still celebrates Holi proudly. “The whole point is to stay united despite diversity,” she said of the holiday.

Students of all backgrounds are invited to celebrate Holi because as ISC member, Varnita Jain, said: “it’s far beyond the religion—it’s about the country, the people.”

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