Community gathers to colorfully celebrate Holi



On April 1, the Asian Pacific American Club (APAC) collaborated with the South Asian Student Association (SASA) too celebrate Holi, which welcomes the upcoming season of spring.

Instead of heading home or to after-school activities like any other day, students gathered in the quad to celebrate Holi. They soon covered themselves in a variety of colored powder to welcome spring after the cold and harsh days of winter.

Holi is a widely celebrated ancient Hindu holiday that takes place throughout India and Nepal. The holiday welcomes the upcoming season of spring with a variety of joyous activities. Senior Rohan Chopra, co-president of the South Asian Student Association (SASA), said that the color-throwing is one of the most important aspects of this holiday.

“The whole idea of the holiday is to take this colored powder, called Gulaal, and to go out into the streets and throw it onto other people. For someone who’s never played it before, it might sound kind of awkward, like, ‘Why are you throwing powder on people?’ But it’s actually very popular in India,” Chopra said.

SASA co-president Keya Waikar said that the holiday and all of its traditions have a lot of significance for her and her family.

“For me and my family, Holi is a celebration of just having fun all together and really enjoying each other, and each other’s presence,” Waikar said.

Chopra said that the communal aspect of Holi is very important to him, and impacts the celebration of the holiday all together.

“I think growing up here in the United States and finding a community that looks like me, is like me religiously, and has the same color skin as me was super important to me. So going out and celebrating this holiday with my friends and finding my community to throw around powder with was super comforting to me,” Chopra said.

Holi celebrations consist of hundreds of people all coming together to celebrate the end of winter. SASA co-president Gia Katwa said that the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years affected the celebrations. Families typically celebrated individually, rather than attending large community gatherings.

“I think COVID-19 has scared everyone since Holi is a huge event where you get a bunch of people together and everyone’s super close to each other. I think because of COVID-19, people were scared to get in large groups, so I don’t think many people have been celebrating Holi,” Katwa said.

Katwa said that prior to COVID-19, people would celebrate Holi in a more traditional way through music and bonfires with many people.

“Some people, including myself, didn’t celebrate Holi at all. Others probably felt safe celebrating it traditionally with just their immediate family. In typical years, there are usually Holi events that people can register and show up to, but because of the pandemic there were no events planned at all,” Katwa said.

The Asian Pacific American Club (APAC) planned a Holi event on Apr. 1. The club reached out to SASA, and Waikar said this excited her because she felt as though people did not know enough about the holiday and culture behind it.

“It was so cool for us because we haven’t gotten to see our culture really represented in the school, so bringing that idea to us was a lot of fun. We essentially just talked to them about dates, times, buying the powder, what kind of powder we would buy and other logistics that are kind of behind the scenes,” Waikar said.

Waikar said the holiday is important for her because of the joy it brings.

“It is the beginning of happiness. It’s almost summer so this holiday is a day to relax and let go of all other stress and just play with colors,” Waikar said. “It’s usually something that we associate with kids, but it’s just so fun to act younger again and just have fun with people you love.”