HOLI Festival of Colors to bring piece of Hindu culture to Wichita State


Students play with color and water during the 2015 HOLI Festival of Colors. 

Wichita State seniors Priessia Niswantari and Aniruddha Jadhav know first hand the meaning behind the HOLI Festival of Colors.

The couple will celebrate their one-year anniversary at the annual HOLI event Saturday, a Hindu festival celebrating the power of love through a colorful display of splashing colors, hosted by Wichita State’s Association of Hindu Students of America (AHINSA).

Their relationship blossomed into a romance last year over bursts of purple and orange paint.

“We don’t mind attending, but the clean up after is a little of a headache,” Niswantari said. “I have really long hair it’s so annoying to clean it out later. I know it sounds a little silly, but it’s fine with me. 

“After all, it’s only once a year, and I get to throw mud at my friends,” said.

The religious festival is a showing of love, AHINSA President Ashita Singh said. Taking place between late February and the middle of March, the festival is a two-day event starting with a day of prayer, in which participants gather around a bonfire for prayers. On the second day, it is a day for celebration — HOLI.

“This is a very large-scale event, especially in India,” Singh said. “HOLI is celebrated by everyone, despite your cast, class, race and gender.” 

To Hindus, the day of celebration is known as “Rangwali holi” or “Dhuleti.” Participants throw herbal colors at one another in a friendly game of chase.

The display of colors are meant to symbolize that participants cannot recognize or discriminate against one another, said Kushal Dave, the organization’s event coordinator.

AHINSA’s founder, Prem Bajaj, said he wanted to bring a piece of India to students of all nationalities and educate them about Hindu culture. The motto of AHINSA is “have fun, eat good Indian food and learn something about Indian culture.

“HOLI is the best time to throw balloons filled with colors and shoot water guns at my friends,” said Parth Amin, vice president of AHINSA. “The best part is pushing them into a pool of mud.”

On Saturday, participants will be given an endless supply of colors, water and mud; they are encouraged to wear old clothes in fear of stains. Admission is $5, which includes a lunch of a paneer wrap (vegetarian sandwich wrap), samosa (a triangular savory pastry fried with spiced vegetables or meat), gulap jamun (milk-solids-based sweet mithai) and mango lassi (yogurt-based drink).

Singh and her committee are hoping to host about 300 people Saturday.

“I really hope there is a better turn out this weekend,” she said. “It would be nice to engage with people from all walks of life while having fun in the festivities.”

If you go:

HOLI Festival of Colors

When:Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday

Where:Hubbard Hall east lawn