Murray State students from all cultures found themselves covered in color Saturday due to the celebration of the Holi Festival.
The Holi Festival is a traditional Indian festival of color, and students had the opportunity to participate in the fun by throwing paint, jumping through sprinklers, dancing to music and enjoying all types of foods, including traditional Indian dishes.
Sriharsha Boinapally, graduate student from India, said the holiday comes from a traditional, religious story that has been passed down for generations.
“We gather and sing songs and offer prayers and food to the gods and share traditional dishes,” Boinapally said. These dishes vary in different parts of India but may include things like thandai, samba and lemon rice.
“India is very multicultural,” Boinapally said. “But everyone in India celebrates (Holi).”
Although the weather was cold and cloudy, it did not stop the festival from being held.
Niti Shah, president of the Indian Student Association, said the festival had more attendees than anticipated, which only added to the fun.
“We had a lot of people come up, which was unexpected,” she said. “They danced a lot and enjoyed themselves.”
Shah said the Holi Festival is one of two major Indian festivals – the other being the Diwali Festival.
The Diwali Festival is also known as the festival of lights and the Indian Student Association celebrates it in the fall with firecrackers and fireworks.
The Holi Festival is based on colors, but it symbolizes more than that to the Indian culture.
“This festival is a lot of fun because you play with colors, but it’s about everyone coming together and having fun,” Shah said. “It’s about equality and unity.”
While the festival is normally celebrated in Indian culture, other cultures were welcome to join in.
Shah said she was happy to see the mix of cultures having fun together through the festival.
Shah said international students want others to learn and know about their own cultures as well as other ones from around the world.
Abhilash Kundur, graduate student from Andhrapradesh, India, said the Indian Student Association chooses the most important festivals to celebrate on campus because there are too many to celebrate them all.
He said because there are so many typically celebrated in India, only the Holi and Diwali Festivals are celebrated on campus, otherwise there would be constant festivals throughout the year. Shah said the Indian Student Association received a lot support from its members to help make the event successful.
“Everybody turns out and they help for the event,” she said. “We have a lot of unity in our association. We don’t have to call anyone; they come all on their own.”
Shah said the festival was such a success they quickly ran out of colors to throw on each other but everyone still continued to dance and have fun.
The Holi Festival has influenced other cultural events including The Color Run, a 5K race where runners have color thrown on them.
Norman Franklin III, junior from Nortonville, Ky., said he had no idea what to expect from the Holi Festival.
“I knew color would be thrown and that was it,” Franklin said. “It was different because there was a lot more dancing than I was prepared for.”
Franklin was one of several Americans among more than 50 students that gathered for the celebration. He said he had never heard of the festival, let alone celebrated it.
Franklin said he thinks students should take the opportunity to experience the various cultural activities that are happening around campus.
“I would tell them to definitely try it,” Franklin said. “See what the events are all about.”
The Holi Festival was sponsored by SGA and Multicultural Affairs.