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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Annual Holi festival colorfully celebrates spring on campus

Stony Brook Student PP (left) gets slapped with colored powder by Serena Zachariah (right) at the annual Holi celebration hosted by the Hindu Students Council in the Mendelsohn Quad pit. Holi is also known as the festival of colors and signifies the triumph of good over evil. ARACELY JIMENEZ

The Mendelsohn Quad pit exploded with vibrant colors in celebration of Holi, the festival of colors, on April 29.

Holi is the Hindu Students Council’s largest spring event, both in terms of population and significance, and this year it showcased Stony Brook pride. Wolfie attended for the first time and the festival highlighted its inclusion into Stony Brook’s “25 Things to Do Before You Graduate” list this semester, Yoga Kammili, president of the Hindu Students Council and senior biology major, said.

Attendees donning white clothes lined up at the beginning of the event to receive a cup filled with the colored powder of their choice. As they entered the pit, Bollywood music played in the background. The air quickly filled with a rainbow of colors as attendees threw and smeared the powder on one another. A second cup was given mid-event before everyone gathered in a crowd and began chanting “Holi, Holi, Holi!”

Originally scheduled for April 23, the event was postponed to the following week due to a forecast of thunderstorms and cold weather. Despite the date change, Kammili said that there was great turnout.

“It was a lot of fun and no one really knows each other but we all got along and had a great time,” Robert Myrick, a junior mechanical engineering major, said.

Holi is a two-day festival celebrated throughout India that features an evening bonfire event on the first day and a play of colors on the second day, Devanshi Bhimjiyani, a sophomore information systems major from India who attended the event, said. The HSC annually hosts the second day of the festival as a way to share the celebration with anyone who wishes to participate.

“Just like the majority of the festivals [in India] it has a religious and symbolic meaning,” Kammili said. “It’s about good beating evil, or color defeating the darkness.”

The festival is based on the old legend of Prahlada, a devoted follower of Vishnu, the God of Protection. His father, Hiranyakashipu, tries to kill him by placing him on the lap of his sister, Holika, a fire-immune demoness, as she sits on a pyre. Because of his loyalty to Vishnu, Prahlada’s life is spared as Holika burns to death, representing the defeat of evil and the entry into prosperity and life, Bhimjiyani said.

A sense of unity was felt through the festival as friends and strangers alike threw fistfuls of color at each other. “You need more color,” was a common phrase heard throughout the pit before someone was struck with a handful of powder.

“It’s my third year coming to the event,” Joseph Perez, a junior respiratory care major, said. “With finals coming up, it’s a great way to destress, hang out with friends and have a blast.”

The aromatic powders are made from natural ingredients that are non-toxic, biodegradable and skin-safe, according to Krishna Color Sales, the company that provided the powders. They also do not stain clothing and easily come off with water.

“This is my first time attending the event and I will definitely come back next year,” Marina Fandaros, a junior biomedical engineering major, said.

Unlike past years, water balloons and mango frooti, a popular drink in India, were not available this year.

“Hopefully next year we will have more colors, frooti and water balloons,” Kammili said. “Some people loved them and others hated [the water balloons] so we might do a poll on whether or not we bring them back.”

Regardless of race, age or gender, festivals like Holi serve as a great way for people to learn about new cultures in a colorful, fun-filled mess.

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