Hundreds of Harvard students flung bags of colored powder at each other Saturday afternoon in celebration of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors.
The occasion—led and organized by Dharma, Harvard’s Hindu Student Association—celebrates the arrival of spring and encourages people of all backgrounds to get involved in their communities and enjoy themselves, according to Dharma co-president Aditi Hota ’14.
The celebration began in the Winthrop House Junior Common Room with food and games of Kabbadi, a traditional South Asian sport.
Students then gathered in the Malkin Athletic Center Quad and formed a large circle around plastic bags of rang, a colored chalk powder, spread across the grass.
One representative from Dharma counted down from ten, after which participants broke from the circle and raced to pick up a bag. Students then tossed rang at each other and into the air in a blast of vibrant Indian pink, purple, yellow, cobalt, and red pigments.
Holi is inspired by an old Hindu myth about the triumph of good over evil in which Prahlada, a devotee of the god Vishnu, overcomes a powerful demon king. The change of season from winter to spring symbolizes his victory.
After the celebration, students expressed excitement at being able to participate.
“I thought it was a good time...It was on my senior spring bucket list,” said Danielle F. Dejoy ’13.
Marjorie Lacombe ’13 said Holi matched her positive expectations.
“I thought it was going to be a large pillow fight with colors. I think that was exactly what it was... a great time for people to take photos, smile, and have fun,” Lacombe joked. “I wish this were a weekly thing.”
Rishab Mehan ’14 expressed relief at the weather conditions.
“It couldn’t have gone better. The sun is shining, everyone’s covered in color; the festival is meant to welcome the beginning of spring and today feels like a full spring day,” said Mehan, who helped organize the event.
Following the celebration, rainbow-colored veterans of the event returned to their daily business through Harvard Square to the fascination of many tourists.
“I can’t wait until next year, and the year after that,” said Steven P. Barroqueiro ’16.