Color-coated celebration: Holi held in Bayou Park for first time

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Color-coated celebration: Holi held in Bayou Park for first time

Brea Joyner

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Vibrant  colored powders blew through Shivam Kharga’s black hair as his friends filled plastic bins with small water balloons.

Kharga, a freshman computer science major, came to ULM on a full ride with high hopes of success. Adapting to a new culture was not the easiest and being surrounded by students who did not fully understand his background was even more challenging.12525236_997039443677051_2419278390399854123_o

But during International Student Week, Kharga—as well as the other international students—came together to share their cultures and traditions. For Kharga, this week was the opportunity to bring the Himalayas to the bayou. It was the week…of Holi.

The festival of good conquering evil was the one holiday that integrated and celebrated people with color.

“There is no feeling [of] lower and upper class. Everyone is the same,” Kharga said.

Although Holi depends on the region and races throughout India and Nepal, this mystical holiday started after years of battle came to an end.

According to Hinduism, Hiranyakashyapu, the king of the devils had a son who chose to follow God—Prahlad. Because of God’s favor over Prahlad, Hiran failed to kill him several times.good diaganol

Holika, Hiranyakashyapu’s sister, had the power to live through fire without any scars or
burns.

As a request from her brother, Holika sat in Prahlad’s lap to burn him alive. Though, once again, the God saved Prahlad and Holika is consumed in flames. Thus, Holi—named after Holika—is celebrated for the victory of the truth over the false one.

Every March since then, Nepalese and Indians—young and old—uphold the victorious battle by throwing powdered colors and smearing them on each others’ faces.

In fact, to make new friends, all you have to do is smear powder on someone else’s face.

“You’re putting color on me as I put color on you…you are [now] my friend,” Kharga said with red powder smeared on his cheeks.

Even though this tradition seemed similar to an old-fashioned backyard water balloon fight, sophomore Elizabeth Stephens, a modern languages major, saw Holi beyond the smears of red and blue powder that coated her eyes.

“I was able to get an inside look into exactly how they celebrate and… the emotion that goes behind it. I loved being able to support the Nepali students in this event,” Stephens said.

Holi ended as everyone grabbed a Laddu—a traditional Holi dessert—and joined together to dance to the upbeat tunes of tradition.