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People celebrating Holi hosted by Ohio University's South Asain student organization and Ohio University's Indian student organization, Mar. 24, 2024 on South Beach at Ohio University in Athens Ohio.

Holi colors brighten OU

On March 24, South Green Beach became a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors and joy as students gathered to celebrate Holi, also known as the festival of colors, love and spring. 

The Holi celebration was organized by the Ohio University South Asian Student Association, or SASA, and the Indian Student Association, or ISA. 

Originating in India, the Holi festival embraces good over evil, highlights the beginning of spring and celebrates love and the power of devotion. 

To celebrate Holi at OU, students gathered colored powder and water balloons. After everything was set up on South Green Beach, the group began to play with the colors, throwing powder and water at one another.

“Slowly one person starts to grab the packet of colors and kind of just starts throwing them, going crazy,” said Anne Mathew, a junior studying neuroscience and the founder and president of SASA. “At one point a bunch of members picked up the president of ISA and threw him into the pool.”

Drishti Dhingra, a sophomore studying management information systems and the treasurer of ISA, said the highlight of the Holi celebration at OU was the fun nature of the event and the turnout of attendees.

“I feel the highlight was how people were enjoying and coloring each other and how many people came to support us,” Dhingra said. “It was really nice. I love to see that.”

Mathew explained there are a multitude of different variations of Holi celebrated in different regions. Different legends are attached to each tradition. 

The most popular origin is the story of Holika and Prahlad from the Hindu scriptures, according to India TodayThe demon king, Hiranyakashipu, had a son named Prahlad. Prahlad was devoted to Lord Vishnu, but his father did not approve. To punish Prahlad, Hiranyakashipu asked his sister Holika for help.

According to the Times of India, Holika was immune to fire. So, Holika tricked Prahlad into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika perished in the flames, while Prahlad emerged from the fire alive due to his dedication to Lord Vishnu. 

“That's why we play with colors and water, to celebrate good deeds over bad deeds,” said Dhruv Patel, a sophomore studying computer science and the president of ISA. “A celebration of good over evil, that kind of thing.”

Patel said he was happy to share the positivity that comes with Holi around campus.

“Thousands of miles away from home here at OU, we are still able to celebrate our festivals and it's not limited to us,” Patel said. “We are happy that we can also teach other people the culture and why we celebrate Holi.”

Patel said the Holi Celebration at OU was an opportunity for cultural celebration and exchange. He was eager to see so many people show up to celebrate.

Mathew shared this sentiment, explaining celebrating Holi at OU allows her to feel cultural connections.

“It also means a lot to my parents and my extended family in India when they get to see pictures of me here celebrating Holi and just working to create an event to celebrate this culture and history,” Mathew said. “I think that's a really important thing, just to stay connected to the culture here, despite being so far away.”

Mathew explained Holi is an opportunity to foster community, bringing people together despite differences.

“It was just a really wonderful way to bring people together like Holi does traditionally,” Mathew said. 


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