Festival of Colors to welcome all students, share Indian culture

By Theresa Mueller | 9/6/17 11:24pm

GVL / Kevin Sielaff - Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies Brent Smith participates in Holi. Grand Valley celebrates India’s spring color festival, Holi, for the first time on Friday, April 15, 2016.

To further its mission of celebrating religious and spiritual diversity at Grand Valley State University, Campus Interfaith Resources (CIR) is partnering with the religious studies department to host the Festival of Colors. 

The Festival of Colors will be held Friday, Sept. 15, at 4:30 p.m. outside the Student Services Building on the North Lawn. The event is LIB 100-approved.

The festival will serve to welcome all students and provide them with an opportunity to experience a gathering of various affiliations to celebrate India’s cultural traditions.

The Festival of Colors, or what is traditionally referred to as Holi, is an Indian spring celebration to acknowledge the rebirth of nature after a long dark winter. Spring is a colorful time with the blossoming of flowers, and the festival commemorates the vibrant season with a literal throwing of colored powders.

Although the festival is traditionally held in the spring, CIR made the decision to hold the event during the fall 2017 semester, as last April was a bit cold for the event. 

Additionally, Abhishek Ghosh, assistant professor of religious studies and co-coordinator of the event, explained that celebrating the Festival of Colors a few weeks after the beginning of the semester would serve as a further commemoration to welcome new students.

In India, Holi is a national festival celebrated by people with various religious affiliations, including Hindus, Muslims and Christians. In the U.S., the Festival of Colors has gained more popularity over the last 40 years. 

The event is open to all GVSU students, as well as any outside friends or family interested in experiencing the Indian tradition, regardless of religious affiliation.

“(The Festival of Colors) welcomes people and strangers into a welcoming place,” Ghosh said. “No matter how different we are, we are one family. ... (The festival) breaks barriers between people."

Starting at 4:30 p.m., there will be a potluck and music for anyone interested in socializing and meeting people. The tradition of “throwing colors" will happen at 5 p.m., followed by a scavenger hunt.

“By throwing colors on each other, (it symbolizes) the expression of our inner colors,” said Brent Smith, professor of liberal studies and co-coordinator of the event. “It is a time to take oneself less seriously.”

The colors used are a combination of organic materials such as flour and natural dye. Ghosh recommends attendees wear attire they are willing to decorate.

CIR held this event in the spring of 2016, with approximately 150 students RSVPing and additional students still showing up. 

Ghosh expects more people will attend, as CIR has been reaching out to various departments. For students who are interested in attending, there will be an opportunity to RSVP next week. Otherwise, they may simply show up to the event. 

For more information, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/festival-of-colors-gvsu-tickets-37392824946.

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