Eastern celebrates Holi Festival in rain

Logan Raschke, News Editor

The Saturday showers quite literally put a damper on the three-day Celebration Festival, but that did not stop Charleston from having a good time.

Food trucks surrounded the Doudna Fine Arts Center; artisan stands occupied 7th Street and festival-goers sifted through, lugging umbrellas and jumbo corndogs.

The smell of kettle corn and mustard wafted through the cold, damp air while rock music played on the temporarily abandoned stage.

Across from Doudna, another celebration was taking place at the Booth Library Quad—one that actually benefitted from the rain.

Holi, a festival of colors, was a part of Celebration for the very first time.

Holi, according to the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India, is a Hindu celebration of love and victory of good over evil. More specifically, the festival reflects the “extreme delight” Krishna took in throwing color on Radha and other cow herding gopis, according to SCFI. The term “gopi” refers to “the group of cow-herding girls famous within Vaishnava Theology for their unconditional devotion to Krishna,” according to the London Sri Murugan.

At Eastern’s Holi Festival, in conjunction with Celebration, blue, purple, red, yellow and pink powders flooded the skies.

Hunter Worthey, a student who graduated as a history major, said she has participated in Holi almost as early as it started at Eastern.

Worthey and some friends gathered around a puddled South Quad with white T-shirts, canvases, they said, they wished to paint with colors.

Worthey said the colored powder needs water for it to stick onto the clothing; last year participants used cups of water to throw as a binder. This time, Worthey said the rain did the trick just fine.

At Eastern’s Holi Festival, members from the Indian Student Organization and the Office of International Students and Scholars filled dozens of plastic cups with the bright powder dye.

Right around 3:15 p.m., the colors officially began to fly. Around 3:30 p.m., the sidewalk was coated in blue, pink and purple puddles; the quad was filled with people covered in color.

Sophomore English major Noor-ul-haash Khamisani said she remembered last year’s Holi Festival being really fun, so she was excited to experience it again as a sophomore.

The colors, she said, are representative and symbolic.

She said the colors represent “connectivity,” which is what she saw when total strangers came together to dance, throw powder and celebrate at this year’s Holi Festival.

The rain ended up being a blessing in disguise, she said.

“It was raining and normally, when we did it last year, we used water, so this time it was just already there,” Khamisani said.

Something she said she did find disappointing was a side effect of the Saturday showers, though—the cold.

“It was cold. That was not good because I was feeling so chilled. I was shivering,” Khamisani said.

By the end of the Holi Festival, Worthey and friends Sarah Massey, a senior history major, and Emily Moreno, a graduate student majoring in history, said it was a great success. They left the festival with their heads held high and T-shirts absolutely coated in a hodgepodge of bright colors.

Krisha Thomas, a staff member for the Office of International Students and Scholars, said the purpose of Eastern’s Holi is to celebrate other cultures, particularly the South Asian and Indian ones.

She said she was very happy to see everyone participate and have fun.

“There’s equal opportunity. If you wanted to participate, you were fully in,” she said. “Whether you were male or female, you had powder thrown at you equally; really, that was the most enjoyable part of this.”

For participants eager to clean off the bright colors after the festival, Thomas said they could wash their clothing off with warm water and soap.

Logan Raschke can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].