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‘Colorful,’ ‘Vibrant’: Harvard Students and Affiliates Celebrate Holi

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Harvard students and affiliates chased each other around the Quad Lawn while throwing colored powder and spraying water guns on Sunday afternoon to celebrate Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors.

Holi is an Indian celebration of spring where participants douse each other with vibrant colors. Dharma, Harvard’s Hindu Student Association, hosts an annual Holi celebration — usually on the Quad Lawn.

Suhanee S. Mitragotri ’25, co-president of Dharma, described Holi as an important tradition to Hindu culture and religion.

“It’s something that brings the Dharma community together,” she said. “Harvard Dharma arranged this every year — it’s a tradition, so we’re really excited to be able to do it again for another year and be able to celebrate together.”

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Dharma Junior Treasurer Pranav Ramesh ’26 added that in addition to bringing the Dharma community together, the organizers wanted Holi to be “inclusive and diverse.”

“So many people came for this event — those in the Dharma community and those not in the community,” Ramesh said. “We wanted to make sure that this is an event that is open to everyone, and it was and we’re glad that everyone had a lot of fun here.”

Ramesh said one of the main goals of holding Holi on campus was to educate students and affiliates on the meaning and significance of the festival. He described Holi as a celebration of “lights,” “color,” and “success,” as well as an opportunity to spend time with friends and form new relationships.

Aditi Raju ’25 said that she went to Dharma’s Holi celebration last year, but she arrived too late and the colored powder had already run out.

“Despite being Indian myself, I’ve never been to an actual Holi celebration,” she said. “I really wanted to go this year, so I got there early. It’s really fun — it’s a celebration of spring.”

Raju and Jared Ni ’25, who attended the celebration together, said their favorite part was throwing colors because it was a “nice stress relief.” They described the celebration as “fun,” “vibrant,” and “colorful.”

Lowell Resident Tutors Francisco J. Marmolejo Cossío ’12 and Rhea Tibrewala said they heard about the Holi celebration from a group of Desi students in Lowell.

“They told us it’s gonna be a good time, and they know I [am] constantly missing India,” Tibrewala said.

“It’s such a nice sense of community for many of the students who I was talking to who have not celebrated Holi in so long,” she added. “It’s just a good space for everyone and very respectful — which is not always the case with Holi.”

Attendee Ammaar A. Saeed ’23 said the celebration was “full of energy” and “a little bit crazy,” but still “a great time.”

“I think it’s a great cultural celebration,” Saeed said. “I’m not Hindu myself or any of the Sikh-identifying religions that celebrate Holi, but it’s a good way to connect with those friends and connect with the culture they grew up with.”

Saeed added that attendees needed to “be ready” and “primed” for the “aggression” at the celebration.

“It’s a very forward exchange culturally, so people you know or just barely know throw the powder in your face or shoot you with water,” he said. “You have to be ready for that stepping in.”

“This is actually one of the best experiences I’ve had so far here — everyone is pouring powder on each other, just laughing, having a fun time, playing good music,” Ramesh said. “I think this was a successful event.”

—Staff writer Madeleine A. Hung can be reached at madeleine.hung@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Joyce E. Kim can be reached at joyce.kim@thecrimson.com.

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