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IU students celebrate Holi festival with colored powder, music, laughter


Students participate in the celebration of Holi on April 21 in Dunn Meadow. The event is also known as the festival of colors, and participants could throw different colored powders into the air and at their friends. Ty Vinson Buy Photos

A cloud of colored powder filled the air Sunday as students and community members gathered in Dunn Meadow under a nearly cloudless sky to celebrate the Indian Student Association’s Holi festival.

“Three, two, one,” one of the organizers shouted to kick off the event.

Most participants wore white shirts, which quickly became covered in color as they ran around the enclosed area laughing and flinging packets of pink, green, orange, yellow and blue powders.

“Nobody’s safe,” one woman said, moments before her friend ran up and threw a handful of yellow powder on her previously white shirt.

Holi, which took place March 20 and 21, is a traditional Indian festival that signifies the beginning of spring and celebrates the victory of love and joy over hatred.

The Indian Student Association waited until April to celebrate so they could take advantage of the warmer weather, the group’s co-president Nivedha Meyyappan said.

“It’s a festival of energy and love and new beginnings, and it’s celebrated in a very fun way,” she said.

Attendees ran around tossing handfuls of the powder at their friends, covering their hair, faces and clothing. Some even emptied entire packets onto each other.

Meyyappan, powder in hand, chased someone around the field before he sped away and she gave up.

“I can’t run as fast as you,” she called after him, laughing.

Holi was celebrated by IU students and community members Sunday in Dunn Meadow. The festival signifies the beginning of spring and celebrates the victory of love and joy over hatred.

Then came the water balloons and water bottles.

The students ran faster through the field, emptying the bottles on unsuspecting friends and whipping the water-filled balloons at each other. Some missed. Some didn’t.

A group of guys carried a blue storage tote to the Jordan River and filled it. They carried it back to the field and dumped it onto sophomores Mira Mathew and Tanya Rao.

One of the men finished by gently sprinkling blue powder on Rao’s head as she stood in shock.

“We were attacked,” Rao said, the liquefied color dripping from her face. “But it’s okay, we’re going to get revenge.”

Some of the students took a break from throwing the powder and water to watch IU Jhanak and HooSher Bhangra, two student dance groups, perform different styles of Indian dances.

Freshman Amrit Gakhal, a member of the HooSher Bhangra dance group, spit out green powder after her brother shoved it in her face and some got into her mouth. She said her family celebrated Holi growing up but only used chalk powder and played in their backyard. Sunday’s festival was her first experience celebrating with so many people.

She said she had celebrated Easter with her boyfriend in the morning, and he later met her at the festival to participate in Holi with her.

“I celebrated his culture, and now we’re celebrating part of my culture,” she said.

Meyyappan said increasing cultural awareness and diversity on campus is the Indian Student Association’s main mission.

“You don’t have to be Indian, and you don’t have to be part of a certain religion to come out and enjoy it,” she said. “Anyone can come and throw colors on their friends.”

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