Holi, the Hindu holiday also known as the Festival of Colors, celebrates love, the triumph of good over evil, and the end of winter. And after two years of cancelling the campus celebration because of the global pandemic, the colorful celebration has added significance.
“There’s just such a release, a relief, a joy at being able to hang out together once again, to be able to throw color on one another, maybe not wear masks,” says Leela Prasad, professor of religious studies at Duke University. “There’s a greater appreciation for the kinds of freedoms that we had before the pandemic that perhaps we took for granted. The playing with colors was something we couldn’t do during the pandemic.”
Holi is observed in South Asian countries and worldwide throughout the South Asian diaspora. The throwing of colors symbolizes happiness, Prasad says, as well as nature’s variety.
“It’s a way of welcoming and walking into spring,” Prasad says.
Prasad led a discussion of the mythology and significance of Holi on campus Friday evening.
The celebration continued on Saturday, March 19, as Duke students enjoyed music, food and the throwing of powdered colors on Abele Quad. The event was hosted by Diya, Duke’s South Asian Student Association and Duke Hindu Students Association.