May 4, 2017
On April 24, Holi, a festival of colors, came to Hamilton. With its origins in India, Holi celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It is an opportunity for people to disregard social norms and to indulge in general fun with family and friends.
As a reflection of the vibrant colors that come with spring, the main ritual of Holi is the throwing of colored powder, an act that allows everyone, regardless of age, race, gender or sexuality to transcend the barriers of discrimination as they become canvases of color.
Holi is a Hindu Spring festival originally celebrated in India and Nepal, also known as the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love.” It is often celebrated with groups carrying drums and other musical instruments as well as singing and dancing.
For many students, the event was a perfect opportunity to de-stress in the week leading up to finals. As people ran from and towards each other with cups full of powder, it was impossible not to get caught up in all the laughter and playfulness. All this lighthearted activity had a tangible energy which attracted people to the event.
Amar Kassim ’20 shares this sentiment, saying, “Holi was a therapeutic experience of sorts. On one hand, there were no general expectations of an etiquette I was supposed to adhere to. I felt free as a bird! On the other hand, the presence of colors in the atmosphere triggered feelings of joy and optimism.”
Despite the chilly weather and possibility of rain, the opportunity to enjoy free food and entertainment drew a decent crowd. Around 15 to 20 people participated in the color throwing, while many more arrived for the food and tank tops designed by Reina Weinstock ’17. Overall, the festivities attracted a rather diverse crowd. In addition to the students who saw the event and stopped by, there were students and their friends from Asian Student Association (ASA), South Asian Student Association (SASA), Campus Activities Board (CAB) and the International Students Association.
Sponsored and run by C@B in cooperation with ASA and SASA, Holi is meant to provide students with a fun opportunity to learn more about the holiday. “[The Hamilton Holi event] was a heartwarming and an interesting way of teaching us about different cultures,” says Matthew Zeitler ’20. Catered by Taj Mahal, a popular Indian restaurant in New Hartford, the event paid homage to India, and, under cloudy skies, the grass adjacent to Steuben Field became awash in color.
As a member of C@B, I had the opportunity to both plan and partake in this event. I found the event to be rewarding and thought Sarah Hogoboom ’17, the C@B special events coordinator, did an excellent job of orchestrating all the details necessary for Holi to be a success. There has been some criticism that Holi at Hamilton does not properly honor the holiday since it is officially observed from the evening of March 1 to the evening of March 2. The weather of upstate New York, however, makes this impractical. Since spring comes later here, I think Hamilton celebrates Holi at the perfect time.
For those few hours, we all became kids again. With the stress of deadlines and final exams temporarily forgotten, the goal of the afternoon became making everyone as colorful as possible; no one in a white tank top was spared.
Participants took plenty of photos and developed a real sense of community. I enjoyed everything about Holi, and I hope the tradition continues in the coming years.