The year has come to a close, and there are plenty of things to be excited and scared about. Speaking of celebrating, our very own TAMS FACES just held a celebration of Holi! Whether it was their first time celebrating Holi, their first time coming to a cultural celebration, or the first time someone came to a unique event hosted by TAMS students themselves, everyone had something interesting and stimulating to say after the event! It was a great experience for everyone who participated. We’re here to provide you with awareness of the background of Holi through our range of unique perspectives, as individual TAMS students AND as a collective TAMS body, about attending our Holi celebration. It is a bitter/sweet feeling that our TAMS seniors are leaving us shortly and we will all be missing their presence here but wish them the best in their next academic challenge. But thankfully, TAMS ION and FACES worked together to record some of their last memories of their unique stay here at TAMS. Read on to see some fascinating insights from your peers on the culture pertaining to Holi, gathered by the new dedicated execs of ION and FACES!
“Traditionally, Holi is done by the new junior FACES execs. Planning Holi Holi with my exec board last year was the first time I truly bonded with my fellow execs and realized how special our dynamic really was. Dedicating a weekend to filling up water balloons in the community bathroom and getting Holi powder on my clothes from transferring Holi powder into ziploc bags was only a small price to pay for the bond I built with 4 people I barely knew just three weeks beforehand. For FACES, Holi isn’t just a festival of love, it’s a bonding experience for the new execs.” – Alyson Win, past senior exec of FACES (last year)
“I loved the water balloon fight. As an exec, I had spent a lot of time filling the water balloons. It was worth it though because the water balloon fight was so much fun. I had never experienced Holi before last year. I didn’t know much about Holi before I started planning it. All I really knew was that Hindu people celebrate it and it involved colored powder. Through planning it, I got to learn a few more details. For example its generally held in March. TAMS does it in May just because of scheduling. Holi at TAMS gave me a chance to participate in Holi with a group of peers, some of whom had never celebrated Holi like me and some who celebrate Holi annually.” – senior Hebah Jaffery, past president of FACES
“I think Holi is a wonderful example of something that people of all races can enjoy. I really think this one holiday can help people of other cultures appreciate our culture; which is important since we want to separate appropriation vs appreciation,” says Shivani, a senior. “To me Holi is a holiday that can make a culture as rich and ancient as Indian culture and Hinduism suddenly understandable to people who have not been raised in it. All while being able to throw color on each other.”
“Beforehand I guess that I never knew about the holiday. However, I’m extremely glad that TAMS and FACES was able to host this because it exposed a majority of us to a new cultural holiday and the diversity present at TAMS. I’m really glad I was able to attend Holi this year because it was a chance for me to learn more about the culture, get colorful, and cover my friends with rainbow powder. Being around people I was close to made the experience more fun, because everyone teamed up to make sure that everyone was covered in powder and drenched (in a friendly way.) We all felt like one big family celebrating this festival together.” – senior Carolyn Guan, who attended for the first time this year
“I had never heard of Holi until I came to TAMS. But coming here and being a part of FACES, meeting new people and getting to celebrate that part of their culture with them–it’s pretty amazing. Being a part of the process to host Holi helped me to really appreciate the diversity and culture that exists so prominently at TAMS.” – junior AnneMarie Sabatini, new FACES president, on the planning and preparation of this year’s event
I bet you’re wondering what Holi is really about. You may have heard snippets of it, but you may be still curious about the whole story. Well, here at TAMS we are all about learning, so we worked to satisfy your hunger so we can all truly understand. Thankfully, our new FACES execs worked to gather the backstory, so we can be informed of the significance of the celebration we have heard little actual context for. The word “Holi” comes from the name “Holika,” who is the evil sister of an evil king in this folk tale, named Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu was a great king, but became arrogant after he was given the ability to be indestructible, commanding his subjects to worship him like a God. His son, Prince Prahlada, was a devout follower of Lord Vishnu, a Hindu deity. This angered Hiranyakashipu, who saw his own son as a challenge to his power. Hiranyakashipu often punished Prahlada cruelly for worshipping Vishnu instead of his own father. Prahlada, however, did not waver in his faith and prompted Hiranyakashipu to use desperate measures. He told his sister, Holika, to convince Prahlada to sit on a fire with her, to which Prahlada accepted. However, in a turn of events, the cloak that Holika wore to make her immune from the fire came off of her and covered the young prince. As a result, Holika was burned. Hiranyakashipu was angry with this outcome, which prompted Lord Vishnu to reincarnate into his 4th form, Lord Narasimha, and kill Hiranyakashipu.
Modern pop culture eventually caught up with tradition and started playing a role in the holiday. The growing irreligiousness of the youth, who couldn’t care less about the religious significance of the holiday, had pushed the shift to occur. For example, modern Holi celebrations do not place as much emphasis on the bonfire and place more emphasis on the playing of colors. However, the bonfire still remains an integral component of the holiday. Traditional Holi was accompanied by the puja, but in an effort to make the holiday more secular, this component has been dropped in various regions. However, these are not significant changes as the puja was never really integral to Holi anyways. Holi music now consists of modern bands and modern Bollywood music, rather than traditional songs and religious chants. However, in more rural regions of India, traditional music is more often used than modern music.
Though the underlying principles of the celebration stayed relatively the same over regions, variations in the traditional customs, related religious practices, music and dances arose over time with the celebration of Holi. For one thing, modern pop culture eventually caught up with tradition and started playing a role in the holiday. The growing irreligiousness of the youth, [OM1] had pushed the shift to occur. For example, modern Holi celebrations do not place as much emphasis on the bonfire and place more emphasis on the playing of colors. However, the bonfire [OM2] remains an integral component of the holiday. Traditional Holi was accompanied by the puja, but in an effort to make the holiday more secular, this component has been dropped in various regions. Nevertheless, these are not significant changes as the puja was never really integral to Holi. Holi music now consists of modern bands and modern Bollywood music, rather than traditional songs and religious chants. In more rural regions of India, however, traditional music is more often used than modern music.
There are a lot of unique and interesting traditions for the celebration of Holi. Holi is very popular in Uttar Pradesh, and celebrations vary based on the different regions of the state (of India). One of the most popular variations of Holi is called “Lath Mar Holi”, in which women hit men with sticks, called “lathis” to symbolize the village that drove off Lord Krishna from meeting his love Radha. There’s another interesting tradition in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra to signify the pranks and playful nature of Lord Krishna, a very revered Hindu god. The tradition consists of an interesting activity in which boys try to break open a pot of buttermilk set way high up by climbing on top of each other. The first boy to do so is crowned King. Meanwhile, the girls try to stop the boys by spraying colored water. There is an interesting historical variation to the holiday in the Kanpur region. In the region, Holi is celebrated with a ‘Ganga Mela,’ which is a ‘Grand Fair of the Ganges River,’ a sort of carnival for selling with dancing and games occurring with Holi. It was started by Indian independence activists in order to thwart British colonial rule and commemorates the day when both Hindus and Muslims united to defeat the British forces in 1857. Interestingly, as a result, Muslims are also invited to partake in the traditionally Hindu holiday, making the holiday more secular for the people of Kanpur.
A lot of things are a lot more than we originally make them out to be, and Holi is no exception. TAMS FACES worked hard to make for an enjoyable event out of the celebration of Holi. We all deserve something unique and enjoyable to remind us that we are still here and alive to help us cope with the the final stressful stretch of the semester. We collectively hope that this article sums up the unique experience TAMS provides us with being able to celebrate a unique holiday with people we care about amongst our colleagues. We also hope that this celebration sparks hope for a multitude of other cultural holiday celebration possibilities for the future. Here’re some more quotes from our peers on how the event went! (There are also some pictures from the event below the quotes)
“Well we kept saying HOLI COW. Like throughout the whole process.” – junior Divya Kolli, a new FACES exec, showing us that planning events out is not just fun, but PUNNY
“I have celebrated Holi before, but I have not previously attended Holi at TAMS. Honestly, I never really liked Holi before. We would often go to our temple, but I often found it messy, and crowded with people I don’t know. TAMS Holi was unique because I got to celebrate it with people I know. It really gave me a newfound appreciation for the holiday, especially since I had to plan it. I do plan to go next year, and I hope we have similar success!”Planning for Holi was fun and contributed to my newfound appreciation for the holiday. Researching the holiday, and investing the time and energy into made me love the significance of the holiday, and made me enjoy the holiday even more because I got to see my efforts manifest. More importantly, I loved the camaraderie I formed with my new execs. The struggles of planning during a busy week led us to form bonds that I believe will last for a while. Altogether, I believe that our efforts were totally worth it in the end!” – junior Vinit Shah, another new, and clearly also dedicated, FACES exec on attending the event as an exec who planned and worked on it
“It was very fun to experience the cultural practices of another culture. I had lots of fun experiencing the fun and at the same time, capturing the fun moments people had and especially the happiness in the environment. Honestly, it was great bonding time too.” – junior Yuri Castro, a new ION exec, on the experience of photographing a unique event such as this one
“I mean besides the fact it was lit? This was my first holi, and it was so much more than what I expected. I had no idea that throwing colored powder at friends could be such a bonding experience. I’m so glad I was able to make it. This was probably my favorite TAMS event of the year.” – junior Isheta Kumar
“This years event was a whole different experience for me because I didn’t have to plan it. Instead I got to watch the juniors do such a great job! It’s just a small preview of how amazing they will be next year.” – senior Hebah Jaffery, commending the new junior FACES execs for their hard work to provide us with this unique event
“The experience of participating in this celebration was something incredible, let me tell you. I wasn’t overly sheltered or anything like that, but I never had the chance to truly experience other cultures first-hand like this before. Coming to UNT with the TAMS program has exposed me to a lot of new things to try, including events like this, hosted by my hard working friends. Before TAMS, I had taken so much for granted. I hadn’t really been that open to trying to do new and different things. But coming here to TAMS, I really started opening up and doing things I never saw myself capable of ever achieving. This event hosted by TAMS FACES to celebrate Holi continually reminded me of all the progress I’ve made for myself here at TAMS. I had fun and became closer to friends I’m glad I had decided to make. I enjoyed working with my fellow TAMS students on this article. I have not only got to work with the other ION and FACES execs but also with some seniors who are about to (sadly) leave us. As I develop this article (and hopefully more quality content in the future), I get to know some of the people I hadn’t known well before asking them to provide their special commentary on something unique to the TAMS experience. By listening and showing other people what we all have to say about this specific event, I have not only become more experienced as a new exec for ION but also as a person and friend overall. I’m glad I have chosen to work on this article; I never knew how much a shared effort and responsibility could help me grow in experience and in character. I hope that this article, which I’ve tried my best to make it as well-written to the best of my articulation ability, inspires you all to look towards opportunities with as much hope as I did (or perhaps more) while working on it. Everyone deserves a little hope for the future, and I hope this helps people see the potential of the future they can make for themselves, if they’re willing to open their eyes to what we can do. As unique individuals and as a TAMS fam together, I believe we all can achieve great things.” – junior Danah Omary on the tough, but rewarding, experience of the hard work of working on this article as a new ION exec, which hopefully will help inspire all of you to work to be your best selves that you can be!