Annual Holi Celebration Returns to Campus

By: Amanda Egan, Staff Writer

Furman’s annual Holi celebration returned to campus with flying colors (pun intended) on Friday, April 5. The CLP event was postponed from its original date, meaning that Furman students partook in the Indian tradition — which is usually celebrated during the first full moon of spring — after the official Holi holiday had passed. But the spirit was still strong, thanks to the work put in by Furman’s ASIA Club.

The CLP began in the Watkins room, where students listened to Asian studies professor, Dr. Yazijian, explain the history of India’s “Festival of Colors” and share a personal Holi experience from his time spent in India during his twenties.

Dr. Yazijian acknowledged there are multiple legends connected to the Holi festival, but focused on the story of the Hindu deity, Krishna. Legend says that Krishna admired Radha, another deity. However, Krishna was insecure about his dark skin, comparing it negatively against Radha’s golden tan hue. Krishna’s mother said to ask Radha to paint his skin whatever vibrant color she liked to diminish Krishna’s insecurity. The two then fell in love, and this tradition between lovers to paint their faces matching hues during Holi has continued.

In addition to its roots in ancient lore, smaller Indian villages see Holi as a day of revenge for women, who have traditionally been constrained to housework and dominated by men. This variation of the festival, called Lathmar Holi, consists of women chasing men with large sticks and hitting them violently while the men are supposed to surrender to the blows. More progressive Indian cities do not practice this tradition, but this activity nonetheless continues in small villages.

Dr. Yazijian spoke of his personal experience getting caught in the above frenzy during his time in India, remarking that once the women realized he was American, they gave him a look of pity and left him alone. He also mentioned that green-tinted candies and smoothies were being consumed by people of all ages which he soon found out were infused with cannabis. An interesting difference from Western culture, people saw alcohol as taboo during Dr. Yazijian’s time in India, while (legal) cannabis was enjoyed by the masses during special occasions.

After the history lesson and humorous anecdotes, students enjoyed a sampling of Indian cuisine, then filed out to the front of Furman Hall for an all-out color explosion. The CLP advised that students come prepared, wearing white clothing, and it would soon be apparent why.

Students laughed with childlike energy as they threw colored powder on their friends, then submerged themselves in one of the fountains to rinse off. This has become Furman’s annual Holi tradition – differing from   native celebrations. Students covered in colorful powder could be seen leaving the event. The CLP continues to be popular for its history and colorful component.

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