Southern Miss campus sidewalks were covered in a rainbow assortment of vibrant colors after the International Student and Scholar Services Center hosted a celebration of the Holi Festival of Color on Friday, March 22.
The Nepalese Student Association and the ISSSC invited students and faculty to gather in front of the Walker Science Building to celebrate the first day of spring with the Hindu Festival of Color.
Computer science graduate student Raj Syam from Kolkata explained the religious and cultural beliefs behind Holi, where the tradition originated and how it became a symbolic celebration of peace and unity.
Syam described the festival as a festival where people forget all of their problems and a happy festival of togetherness.
“Lord Krishna [a Hindu God,] came down to save the earth from an evil demon, and while he was living in Mathura [a famous Hindu Temple], he was raised and started a festival where he could play with his friends,” Syam said.
The Hindu religion is polytheistic, meaning followers worship more than one god. Lord Krishna, the god of compassion, love and tenderness, is praised as one of most widely revered and popular Hindu deities, believed to be one of the supreme gods, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Syam said the name of the festival came from female demon Holika, who was burned and vanquished by her own flames in attempts to burn a child.
“The festival Holi is all about burning off the evil in your life and starting a new beginning. That’s why we celebrate it on the first day of a new season,” Syam said.
Southern Miss junior interdisciplinary studies major and International Student and Scholar Services Center student worker Shanell Brent said that this event is a way to bring together all students and to bring knowledge to students who might not know about different cultural traditions otherwise.
“If you look at the people who are here now, you see we’re all different. We have people from Nepal, African Caribbean Society, Vietnam,” Brent said. “We have people who are Muslim, Hindu, Christian. You name it. We all come from different places and religions, but this festival is meant to bring people together to celebrate and learn.”
Paige Cochran, junior international business and Spanish major, was on her way to work and decided to stop by for the celebration of color.
Cochran said she had always wanted to go because she has seen the celebration before but never gotten a chance to attend until Friday.
“I’m so glad I made it,” Cochran said. “I think it is wonderful that this campus does different cultural festivals like this. It is really great for unity and bringing everybody together, so they can learn a little about each other’s different cultures.”
The ISSSC will be having an International Food Fair March 29 at the Southern Miss Baptist Student Union. Follow their USM International Student and Scholar Services page on Facebook for more information on upcoming events.