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Elon celebrates inaugural Hindu Holi festival

Two days removed from Spring Break, Elon students welcomed in the season by taking part in a celebration dear to their Hindu classmates.

The Holi Festival is a Hindu tradition that heralds the arrival of spring.


Throngs of Elon University students took part in a dazzling display of color Tuesday afternoon in celebration of the Hindu festival of Holi.

A holiday that heralds the arrival of spring, Holi brought together students of all faith backgrounds as they tossed, rolled and flung colored powder on each other to the sound of contemporary Indian music reverberating from a nearby sound system.

The Hindu tradition produced purple and green and pink clouds drifting into the air starting just after 4 p.m. in Speakers Corner, the grassy plot between Moseley Center and the Koury Athletic Center.

Purple, pink, green and orange color powder filled the air in front on Moseley on the afternoon of March 27, 2012.

And you couldn’t have asked for a better day. With temperatures in the mid 60s and a sapphire sky, the only thing ragged about the day were the old white T-shirts students wore in anticipation of the colors soon to explode around them.

The event was co-sponsored by the Truitt Center for Religious & Spiritual Life, Periclean Scholars and Better Together: An Interfaith Movement.

“This is a holiday that for years has been a big part of my heart,” said senior Raj Rawal, one of a handful of Hindu students to help plan the afternoon. “We preach diversity, so I thought, ‘Why not do it here?’ … And it’s the Indian version of ‘day glo,’ which is how I marketed it.”

“Day glo” parties typically entail guests dousing themselves in fluorescent or neon paint colors, sometimes in club settings, and usually with black lights to accentuate the effect.

Hundreds of Elon University students took part in the festival.

“Today is a celebration of coming into spring, and these have been celebrations we have with family and friends,” said Elon sophomore Opal Patel, another co-organizer of the event standing with fellow co-organizer Priyanka Sundaram moments before the program started. “A lot of people I know wanted to watch, which is neat,” Sundaram added, “and I’m happy that so many people are also getting into it!”

Sophomores Addie Benthien, Kendall Gardiner and Sally Van Denover stood laughing as the festival drew to a close shortly before 4:30. There in support of Patel, a sister in the Sigma Kappa sorority with Gardiner and Van Denover, the women were covered in colored powder.

“It’s a good way to kick off the spring, getting everybody outside with paint on them,” Benthien said. Added Van Denover, “I haven’t been to a ‘day glo’ party before, so this was cool!”

Eric Townsend,
3/29/2012 9:37 AM