Clouds of brilliant colors, upbeat music, and intermittent performances ranging from children’s groups to belly dancers will fill the atmosphere during the Holi festival presented by the University’s Asha for Education chapter on April 14.
Asha UIUC, a registered student organization that promotes education for underprivileged children in India, is holding their annual Holi celebration from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Florida and Lincoln Fields in Urbana.
Holi, the Indian festival of colors, marks the victory of good over evil, or the arrival of spring and the end of winter. Entering the new season with a fresh start, the festival represents embracing the new life that comes with spring by allowing the participants to let go of old stresses and anxieties through color.
Graduate Coordinator for the nonprofit organization Shreya Khurana said this event is much needed in the Urbana-Champaign area due to the many students who celebrate Holi. “It's a day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships,” Khurana said. “It's also said that on Holi, we have to let go of all past grudges and treat each other with mutual respect and friendship. This is also why you see random people just saying ‘Hi’ and smearing color across your face.”
The high-spirited festival filled with Indian food and live performances attracts over 2,000 students and community members, Khurana said. The growing organization is expecting even more this year due to its popularity in the the C-U community.
The cleansing festival is the organization’s primary fundraiser for multiple education projects based in India. Khurana said that the mission for Asha is to catalyze socio-economic change in India through the education. Over 50 schools around the world have an Asha for Education organization with the same goal of helping underprivileged children. “All the revenue from the event will go towards funding these projects, hence UIUC students and community members will be helping us providing equal education for all,” Khurana said.
This year, Holi 2018 began the evening of March 1 and concluded on March 2; however, due to the unpredictable weather in the midwest, Asha hosts the celebration in the second week of April.
Along with adverse weather in the changing of seasons, springtime is believed to cause viral fevers and colds. Attendees will be given bags filled with gulal, or traditional colored powders, which is the main staple of the celebration. “The playful throwing of natural colored powders called gulal has a medicinal significance: the colors are traditionally made of medicinal herbs and the colors we supply at Holi are also of food-grade quality,” Khurana said. “Other than that, the natural significance of colors is just to bring love and joy to everyone's lives.” To celebrate, participants will toss or smear the gulal on other attendees chanting “Happy Holi” with the throws. Getting doused in color is part of the enlightening celebration, so be prepared to be illuminated with the colors of the rainbow without judgement.
“Holi is the festival of colors and so as part of the entry fee, we'll be providing the attendees with unlimited color,” Khurana said. “It's a time to socialize without being judged or critical of anyone. After all, who doesn't get happy seeing colors?”
In between dancing and throwing vibrant powders around, participants will be able to try authentic Indian foods or watch one of the several performances that day. Other Indian organizations at the University put on dance shows and DJs play traditional and popular Indian tunes. Assistant Holi Coordinator Aishwarya Nayak said this event gives students and community members a taste of Indian culture. “We just try to ring a tinge of our culture and essence here at UIUC, so that our fellow indian students don't miss home,” Nayak said. “Also, it’s something that non-indians enjoy to a great extent.”
Prepared with over 1200 pounds of powdered color and a full lineup of music, performances and food, Asha will give participants an unforgettable celebration to immerse them in Indian culture. Although it is the one of the most celebrated festivals in India, Holi remains an event without any culture or language barriers. “Personally, I consider it essential to celebrate festivals like these, to not just promote one's culture but also, be connected to the festivities and celebrations of the country though you're halfway across the globe,” Nayak said. “In addition to this, it gives a chance to the other international students to get a closer look at the Indian culture and also be a part of it.”
The food tickets and event tickets are sold online and at the event.
Kids under 10 : Free
Groups (20+people): $8 per person
On the spot:
Students : $13
General : $15
Food : $10
Photos by Danny Pics Photography via Facebook