A rainbow river ran through Turner Green on Friday as UNC’s Diversity Mentors shared the Hindu Holi Festival with UNC students, welcoming the arrival of spring while rain and hail poured down on them. Dressed in anything from shorts and sandals to jeans, UNC students grabbed a free pair of neon, protective sunglasses and joined the free-flowing explosion of color.
According to Morgan Monroe, the diversity mentor for Lawrenson Hall, the purpose of the festival is to celebrate the changing of the season.
“It’s also known as the Festival of Colors,” Monroe said. “It’s a Hindu festival that marks the beginning of spring. Holi comes from the root Hindu religion, but mostly this event is celebrating the welcome of spring and new life. This event is celebrated with throwing bright, colored powders and water so that people are covered in colorful colors. So today we are here to renew and welcome spring and new life.”
According to UNC’s Diversity Mentors, diversity and inclusion are important values that they hold, and the idea behind the event was to increase communication with and learn about other cultures. The group explained that to avoid any potential appropriation, the event was executed and presented as a symbol of the celebration itself and as a learning opportunity for all UNC students.
As part of a quick introduction, the diversity mentors explained a little more about Holi. One of the significant traditions associated with the festival is the ‘Holika Dahan,’ a large public bonfire designed to commemorate one of the Hindu folktales the festival is based on.
In one of these stories, Holika is an evil individual that is burned as punishment after being defeated by the good deities; thus, the bonfire itself represents the triumph of good over evil, and the restoration of peace.
Luci Patton, the diversity mentor for Arlington Park, also explained the significance of a few of the colors, ranging from neon pink and green, to bright blue and purple.
“The throwing of paint adds life and vitality to the celebration,” Patton said. “It is important to know the significance of the colors being thrown during the celebration. Red means purity, green is vitality and life, yellow is spirituality, and blue is calmness and peace.”
After a moment of silence to think about the hardships of the year, everyone was turned loose, uncaring of the chilly weather. Clouds of powder flew through the air, leaving the soaked grass speckled with color, as huge, runny puddles of water were given the same treatment. Many of the participants’ pants, shirts and exposed skin were caked with powder, making everyone look as if they were walking art projects.
Despite the off-and-on rain and light hail providing the necessary water for the celebration, the students continued ringing in Colorado’s version of spring, leaving the whole field looking like a water-based kaleidoscope of color.