On Saturday, April 20, SVSU hosted its sixth annual Holi festival in the O’Neill Gym from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The South Asian Student Association (SASA), led by economics professor Kaustav Misra, hosted the event.
Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors. It is commonly celebrated in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Holi is traditionally celebrated on March 20, the spring equinox, but since Michigan is much colder, SVSU celebrates in April. It is also near finals week, so students can enjoy one last fun event before the end of the year.
“When we started, we had about 275 people. Last year, we had about 800-plus,” Misra said. “It’s the biggest Holi in Michigan.”
Holi celebrates springtime, as well as the victory of good over evil in Hindu theology, according to Shrijesh Siwakoti, the vice president of SASA.
Now, it is popular among the whole Saginaw region.
“My favorite part is the color throw because it’s so fun, and it was something I did every year growing up in Nepal and brings me closer to home,” Siwakoti said.
It takes about two months to plan the festival, according to Shawon Sikder, the president of SASA.
He has helped organize the event as treasurer in the past.
This year, there were 300 pounds of colored powder used, said Sadia Mahjabeen, a member of SASA.
“The color throw is my most favorite part of the event, as well as going outside to dance with loved ones while the DJ plays music,” Mahjabeen said. “It’s a great feeling that we’re able to bring cultural diversity among the students of SVSU.”
During the event, there was a cultural program that included a dance competition, singing and an art competition for the children inside the O’Neill Gym.
There were also vendors that sold food from South Asian countries, as well as jewelry, henna and shirts.
The outdoor portion of the event consisted of music played by a DJ and the color throwing. Joelle Williams, a social work major, said she will return to next year’s Holi.
“I would definitely go back because of the food and the colors,” she said. “I like the dances because I don’t know anyone that dances like that, and it was really cool. Even though you didn’t really know anyone, it felt like you were all a family in that moment.”
Farhim Apu, a marketing major, enjoyed seeing people from different backgrounds celebrate Holi together.
“I liked the fact that many people from different backgrounds, ethnicities and religions enjoyed the festival and had a good time to
gether dancing and throwing color,” Apu said.
The color throw was a favorite for most attendees, including Faith Murerwah, a graduate student studying business management.
“My favorite part was the dancing while throwing colors,” she said. “Also, the food they put out was very nice.”
Siwakoti appreciated having both domestic and international students, even from countries outside South Asia, participate.
“With all the segregation and hostility between people of different ethnicities in this country, we could only hope that events like this bring people closer,” he said.
Misra hopes students who attended the event learned more about different cultures, which he said is a skill that can prepare them for an international job market.
“If you don’t know (the culture) already, just come and learn about South Asian culture, try the food, play with colors and make new friends,” he said.