Holi: The Festival of Colors

Holi, the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love”, is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in India. It starts with a massive bonfire that celebrates the burning of demonness Holika, the wicked sister of the mythical hero Prahalada; the bonfire essentially serves as a punishment for Holika’s evil sins. Several villages in India also trace back the celebration of Holi to the connection of Lord Krishna, goddess Radha, and the gopikas (cowgirls) with bottles of canes and colors.

Photo by Neharika Khandavalli Copley Lawn, Georgetown University April 12, 2015

Photo by Neharika Khandavalli
Copley Lawn, Georgetown University
April 12, 2015

As someone who grew up in India for the majority of her life, I had the privilege of celebrating Holi in its full effect – sprinting through crowded city streets, throwing fistfuls of color at friends and strangers alike. I have always associated Holi with happiness because it colors the world around us, both literally and figuratively. It’s not just another holiday; it breaks down hierarchical barriers, uniting people of all backgrounds and castes.

Even though I moved across the world, I am still able to celebrate the holiday with the same level of grandeur. The Georgetown Hindu Students Association hosts Holi each year, celebrating the festival by bringing together students and faculty of many different backgrounds. Organizing an event of this magnitude is no small feat; from making banners to ordering food to putting together playlists to bagging nearly a thousand bags of colored powder, prepping for Holi is truly an adventure from start to finish.

Having celebrated the festival both in India and at Georgetown, my favorite moment is still getting hit in the face with color by complete strangers. The best part is half the time you don’t even know their name but you sprint and chase them anyway, laughing your way through it until you finally get them back. And that’s what Holi is all about. It’s about celebrating our differences and sharing our joy, compassion, and laughter with those around us as we welcome springtime with the most colorful festival in the world. It’s about unity amongst diversity.

– Neharika Khandavalli, COL ’16