For the past few years, DePauw’s South Asian Student Society (SASS) and Dharma have partnered up to host Holi in the spring. On the afternoon of April 28, Bowman Park was transformed into the grounds for a colorful spring festival which was complete with music, South Asian cuisine, multi-colored powder, and water. 

Holi is a Hindu festival of colors that has multiple stories behind it representing love, triumph of  good over bad, and the arrival of Spring. Holi is a vibrant festival that unites people, fosters forgiveness, and symbolizes the renewal of friendships. Over the years, the celebration has become a cultural tradition in South Asian countries, predominantly in India and Nepal. It's characterized by exuberant festivity, including throwing colored powder on one another and playing with water guns.

Ria Pokhrel ‘27 commented on the significance of Holi, “[Holi] is not just a religious celebration, it also has cultural significance, and it’s not only restricted to the people of Hindu faith.” Pokhrel also recalled the celebration back home in Nepal, “[At] home, we would just invite so many people over [and] host a big feast and celebrate with colors.” She also expressed gratitude to SASS and Dharma for offering mango lassi, a drink which her mom makes every Holi, and bringing a warm sense of familiarity to her during celebration seasons.

Holi started with tastes of South Asian foods on the porch of the Green Center for Performing Arts. Students gathered and had conversations while having good food, an indispensable part of any Holi event. After the meal, members of SASS and Dharma initiated the game with colored powders to attendees at Bowman Park. The fun started with inflatable pools, water guns, and a seemingly never-ending supply of colored powder.

Jonathan Martin, Director of the Center for Spiritual Life, joined students at Holi and had a wondrous time. Tran Vo ‘27 stated that she would have bitterly regretted if she had not attended Holi. Vo recalled a popular festival back home that was similar to Holi. “Now that I understand the cultural origin behind it, I appreciate it so much more,” Vo stated. Besides, the event was an excellent de-stressor for her before a new week starts. “I love participating in anything active and colorful, so it helped a lot for me to release the build-up stress throughout these crazy weeks,” Vo added. 

While excitedly playing with powders, the participation of DePauw students in Holi is a stepping stone to inclusion. Thanks to SASS and Dharma’s efforts, DePauw’s campus gains a broader understanding of celebrations and traditions across different cultures.