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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Hindu Holi festival gathers a diverse crowd to Simpson Drill Field

Photo by Paul Burke

Aggies celebrated Holi on Simpson Drill Field with a festival on Sunday afternoon.

As springtime officially returns, so does the annual Hindu Holi festival with its bright colors and lively celebration.
On March 24, Aggies and community members alike excitedly packed Simpson Drill Field to celebrate the widely popular Holi festival. Organized by the Indian Graduate Students Association, Hindu Students Association and Nepalese Students Association, the Holi festival celebrates the beginning of spring and the triumph of good over evil. Participants enjoyed running around the field and showering each other with bright colors.
Ronak Ranjitkumar Mohanty, mechanical engineering graduate student and president of IGSA, has organized the festival at A&M for five years. Although Mohanty has celebrated in India before, he said the feeling of unity is emphasized at A&M as people from all backgrounds participate.
“It’s an event that is not only for Indian students,” Mohanty said. “It’s Indian students, it’s American students, it’s people from all over the world. We have actually had more requests on our Facebook from American students than Indian students wondering when Holi is.”
Mohanty said there are other traditions associated with Holi such as a bonfire the night before to symbolize the burning out of evil. Although many agree that Holi is exceptionally fun, Mohanty said the Holi festival also has a deeper meaning: unity and the celebration of diversity.
“No one is too rich or poor, or big or small — we all come together and celebrate the festival,” Mohanty said. “We put different colors on everyone so you cannot discriminate.”
Mohanty said the community that Holi brings is his favorite part of the festival.
“My favorite part of Holi is everybody coming together, even if we all have busy academic lives but for this day, people will show up,” Mohanty said. “Friends who have graduated two years ago still come to A&M to celebrate Holi. They live in Houston or Austin, but make sure that, at least for Holi, they are at A&M.”
The Holi festival at A&M has gathered a wide range of attendees including students, former students and members of the community. Pratima Purohit, management information systems graduate student, said Holi brings out a sense of community and unity in a fun way.
“It is meant to be fun but there is also a lot of significance that goes behind it,” Purohit said. “Celebrating each other and unity is what Holi really means.”
Andrea Onate, an international studies freshman, was excited to find out that A&M was holding a Holi festival and, said that she has always wanted to attend one.
“I didn’t know A&M did this, so I feel like this is a way to bring the community together — international students, people from other cultures,” Onate said. “It’s just a new experience outside of the A&M traditions.”
Some of these experiences included listening to upbeat Indian music blasting through the speakers, and watching a flash mob of dancers. However, the most visual aspect of Holi is the bright colors. December White, a community member of the Bryan-College Station area, used to live in India and attends Holi every year.
“[My family] loves to attend this and it’s actually our favorite Indian festival,” White said.  
Holi not only brings a part of South Asia to A&M, but allows people from all backgrounds to come together, celebrate and have fun.
Perhaps most importantly, it allows people to escape from daily life and feel a sense of community. Biswajeet Mohapatra, a management information systems graduate student, said this is where the roots of Holi lie.
“The prime motive is that when you put the colors on your face you don’t know who anybody is,” Mohapatra said. “Everybody is family.”

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