More than 100 Elon students and community members celebrated Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors Friday afternoon at Speakers Corner.
Elon University sophomores Clara Watkins and Jasmine Walker are two of the five multifaith interns for the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life. The cohort planned this year's Holi Celebration.
This year, Holi was observed on March 8, but the university celebrated on March 24. Watkins said it gave them something to look forward to after spring break.
“It's not just one faith for one person, it's for everybody,” Watkins said. “As the Elon community, everybody is welcome to this and welcome to learn more about the faiths and spiritualities and cultures of everyone.”
The Holi celebration started with a performance from Surtal, Elon’s Bollywood Dance Group. Freshman Paris Vandyke said it was great to learn about a new religious tradition and culture.
“This was so much fun,” she said. “I knew nothing about Holi to start with, so I came to learn more, have a good time, and we definitely had a good time.”
Community members came to the event for fun, but Interim Assistant Dean of Multifaith Engagement Hillary Zaken wanted people to walk away with more than paint-covered clothing.
“What they don't realize is they're being immersed in an experience from a different culture or a different religious background than they're used to,” Zaken said. “Even as they're throwing paint, they're learning something about a Hindu festival, which is one of the largest in the world actually.”
According to the Truitt Center, the Holi colors — blue, red, yellow, pink, purple, green and orange — represent different values in Indian culture.
Elon freshman Luke Forma said he enjoyed his first time at the event.
“I think just learning more about the community really helps with understanding what each community has to offer,” Forma said.
There are 21 undergraduate Hindu students at Elon, according to the Spring 2023 registrar’s report. This is down from the 24 Hindu students reported by the university last spring.
“I'm very, very happy,” Watkins said. “It's been a long week and having this at the end of it was like a reward.”