Most society-run events have had to be cancelled in light of COVID-19, but UCD Indian Society (IndSoc) barely escaped the closure, with their vibrant event Holi that took place on March 6th.
Holi is an ancient Hindu festival dating back 5000 years and originated in Barsana, India. Holi symbolises the victory of good over evil, a theme that is dominant in many other Hindu festivals like Diwali and Navratri, and is celebrated in an ultimate spirit of love and friendship. Today, the festival knows no religious or racial boundaries – it is celebrated in unison by people from all cultural backgrounds.
Despite the inclement weather that delayed the event by a good 2 hours, a crowd of excited attendees comprising of both Indians and non-Indians milled about in the Brava Cafe, munching on samosa and gulab jamun (much-loved Indian snacks). While people were waiting, I got the chance to speak with some of them. “I’m expecting… colours!” said one student named Vicky.
“I’ve attended IndSoc’s Holi twice now, and it’s nice how the Indian community in UCD comes together for the festival. Also, it’s very different from how it is in India, especially since they use organic colours here!” added Dhruv Gupta, a Masters student in Electronics and Computer Engineering student. In India, water-based colours (that take wash after wash to clean off!) are generally used.
As I was speaking to these folks, the sun finally came out and everyone rushed to the pitch opposite the Sports Centre. Very soon, Bollywood tunes began playing and the colourful fun began. Pity I was in my Student Ambassador uniform which I didn’t want to get any colour on, but that didn’t stop the folks from swathing colour on my face! Aishwarya Ashok, another Master’s in Electronic and Computer Engineering student, said the event made her feel “back at home with the traditional snacks and the Indian community coming together.” It was evident that everyone was having an amazing time and that the committee had worked hard to organise such an great event.
“It’s our biggest event for the second semester and has been running since IndSoc was founded over 5 years ago,” said Nikita Fernes, Vice Auditor of UCD IndSoc. “It’s a lot more fun this year as we got more colours. It takes a lot to put the event together as there were lots of permissions to seek from campus officials. And there was the added worry with the weather and the coronavirus situation. But we pulled it off!”
It is incredible that this ancient festival is kept alive thousands of kilometres from its birthplace. Although I wish that more people knew that Holi is more than just dancing to Bollywood tunes and throwing colours, and instead learned more about its beautiful meaning. It is still heartening that it is commemorated with such joy and in togetherness, the way it has always been meant to be celebrated.
Mallika Venkatramani – Arts & Lifestyle Editor