Vibrant colors and traditional Hindu music, with students running around the field with friends, encapsulate the celebration of Holi at GDS. The celebration has become a time-honored tradition in the GDS community, and it recognizes and celebrates the Hindu holiday that is observed in many areas worldwide.
On Wednesday, March 22, the student-led South Asian Affinity group (SAA) kicked off the Holi celebration with a presentation about Holi’s historical background, traditional practices and cultural significance. Students were then invited onto the field to throw colored powder at each other to celebrate the holiday.
“It’s my hope that everyone does understand the background of Holi, and I think that’s the important piece around making sure the presentation in the Forum happens before we go outside,” DEI Program Associate Guyton Mathews said.
SAA’s presentation also discussed the difference between cultural appropriation and appreciation. “GDS is one of those places that really emphasizes sharing culture with other people and being open,” senior and SAA co-head Malvika Reddy said. Mathews said that the SAA introduced the holiday to avoid cultural appropriation. The presentation “allows folks to get a glimpse of why we’re doing this before we go outside,” he said.
In an interview with the Bit, Reddy said students and faculty members said GDS’ celebration of Holi was meaningful because it brought everyone together to celebrate the coming of spring and Hindu culture. “People were really looking forward to Holi and asking me questions about it, teachers were even thanking me for running it.”
Typically, in celebrations of Holi, colored powder is thrown, traditional Hindu folk music is played and sweets are eaten. The holiday serves as a symbol of the defeat of evil and the triumph of good as the seasons change from winter to spring.
“What I really like about GDS is everything is very much student-led,” Reddy said. She added that she thought Holi “gave us the platform to share our culture with the community.” (Reddy is a former Opinions editor for the Bit.)
Senior Asha Adiga-Biro said she thinks that there is a lack of representation of South Asian culture in the media, and GDS’ celebration of Holi made her feel seen. Holi “was a nice way for me to bring my culture into the lives of my friends,” Adiga-Biro said. She added that she was proud to share her heritage with her peers, who seemed excited to participate in the celebration.