Holi Festival 2022: A hue of humans


Ashanti Thomas

Shashank Vangari, a computer technology graduate student, covers his friend, Pranay Ravuri, a computer technology student, in pink powder during the Holi festival celebration in the North Quad Thursday afternoon.

Rob Le Cates, Assistant Photo Editor

By the end of the first Holi at Eastern since COVID-19, everyone looked like a canvas of colors dancing to Indian music celebrating the Festival of Colors on Thursday afternoon in the North Quad. 

Typically celebrated at the end of February or early March, the two-day festival is celebrated by Hindus across the world and marks the beginning of spring.  

Chaitanya Naresh Arroju, a graduate student studying technology, said it doesn’t matter who you are. Anyone is welcome to attend and celebrate the event. 

“Before, only the Hindus used to celebrate this event,” Arroju said. “Now, every other religion like Hindu, Muslim, Christians; so everyone enjoys this event, and all people come together by sharing the colors.” 

Holi is also a celebration of good over evil, and depending on where you are from, the story behind it is different.  

This is the first Holi Eastern that has been celebrated since the start of COVID-19. 

Ben Rienbolt, the adviser to the Indian Student Association, ISA, and international student coordinator for the office of international students, helped organize the event alongside students. 

Rienbolt said the ISA had all the supplies ready; the weather just didn’t allow them to host it on March 8, the official day of Holi. 

“Fortunately, timing with everything was perfect because everything got lifted. We were like ‘Oh, we can do this now’,” Rienbolt said. “It was perfect to kind of get back and do some things we put aside.” 

Gripping fistfuls of the traditional colored Indian powder, Gulal, crowd members threw it at each other, filling the air with an array of hues. 

Each color has a corresponding meaning different from others.  

Around 30 to 40 people participated in Holi, some being from India. 

Being from India, Krishna Raju, a freshman pre-engineering major and administrative assistant for the office of international students, said having people from the same community he’s from is nice. 

“It’s just great to have a community of people that are from where you’re from, and you just to do some great stuff together,” Raju said. 

Although he came to the event in white shoes, Raju left wearing tie-dyed ones with a smile on his face. 

Cory Meadows, a freshman criminal justice major, attended the event because they have family from India and always wanted to celebrate the event.  

Several other girls convinced Meadows to join in dancing with them in a circle. 

Meadows said dancing with the girls was their favorite part of Holi, and they enjoyed the girls wanting them to celebrate with them. 

Holi participants were very welcoming to others who were not part of the same culture. 

Holi participants were very welcoming to others, asking if they could rub powder on their faces and wishing them a happy Holi. 

Several crowd members noted differences with Holi in India; crowd sizes are considerably bigger and eggs are also being thrown. 

Former Eastern student Hemanth Aleti lives in town and came to the event because he misses Holi in India, so celebrating in Charleston is the next best thing.  

Aleti participated in Holi back in 2016, and although the crowd size is considerably smaller, he appreciates the event.  

Arroju said he appreciates Eastern’s commitment to having Holi on campus. 

“I really enjoyed [the event] and even though the event is over last month, but still they came forward to celebrate this festival in our school,” Arroju said. “That makes a very good school.” 

He noted that Holi is a very special event for him and his friends and family, so having it on campus made him very happy. 

“It’s a Hindu festival where we celebrate all religions together, which makes a unique special festival compared to other festivals,” Arroju said. “I really miss my India and my friends, so over here we are finally celebrating.” 

Robert Le Cates can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].