Sixty pounds of colorful chalk will rain down on Hume Field on the University of Florida campus this Saturday in celebration of Holi. The Indian festival of colors is traditionally marked by throwing colored powder on everyone participating.
This is the first year that the holiday, which marks the beginning of spring, will be celebrated on campus. It is free and open to anyone willing to leave covered in color.
UF’s Indian Student Association has celebrated Holi off campus for years, but only club members participated. Although its origins are in India, it is not celebrated exclusively by Hindus, said ISA president Naomi Abraham.
In India, caste, religion and race are ignored during Holi. The campus event will also bring together students of different backgrounds and religious identities.
“It’s just such a beautiful tradition,” Henna Ibrahim, the student coordinator of the event, said. “To make it part of the cultural tradition at UF is so cool.”
Ibrahim, a Multicultural and Diversity Affairs intercultural engagement ambassador, approached Abraham and the UF Student Government Multicultural Affairs Cabinet to organize the event together.
Students are encouraged to wear white clothing. Everyone will receive a small plastic bag full of colorful powder to throw.
“When everyone is covered in colors, we can get away from all of our external judgements of each other and come together in a celebratory way,” Tulasi Rani, director of the Krishna House’s Bhakti Academy, said.
The event begins at 1 p.m. with an educational exhibition hour and free Krishna lunch. UF religion professor Vasudha Narayanan will give the keynote speech. One of ISA’s goals is to educate students about Indian culture. An event like Holi, Ibrahim said, is more engaging than sitting down for a lecture.
At 2 p.m., the color downpour will begin.
“We’ll be throwing color until it runs out,” Abraham said.