UCSB Explodes with Color at the Holi Festival

The Bottom Line File Photo

Marissa Martin
Photo by Candice Ge

The beach behind Santa Cruz residence hall exploded with color during the Holi Festival, held and organized by the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Indus Club on April 12.

The Holi Festival, or the Festival of Colors, is an event in which participants throw colored powder at each other to commemorate the beginning of spring, and it is traditionally celebrated all over South Asia in countries like India and Pakistan, according to the Indus Club’s co-president and third-year economics and accounting major Satnam Singh.

For 2015, the universal and official date worldwide to celebrate Holi was March 6, but at UCSB, the Indus Club “holds the event every second Sunday of spring quarter,” says fellow co-president and third-year actuarial science major Amal Abraham.

UCSB is one of many UCs, including Irvine and Berkeley, that holds a Holi Festival, and Singh said that the Indus Club has two main reasons to hold it here on campus.

“Our campus is so beautiful; we need to utilize our beach and it is super fun to play and throw powder there,” said Singh. “This school is filled with so many different groups of people and it is a wonderful day to celebrate the diversity of our campus.”

Abraham echoed the sentiment, stating that the event offers up an opportunity for students to learn about other cultures.

“It is nice to express our culture,” said Abraham. “People don’t come here just for the powder—many are genuinely curious as to what Holi is and what it means to us.”

The club set up in front of the staircase leading down to the beach behind Santa Cruz Hall, and participants threw powder down in the beach area. According to Singh, organizing the event is a grand task. The Indus Club’s cabinet and event director, third-year cell and developmental biology major Priyanka Shindgikar, dealt with organizing and recruiting volunteers, ordering powders, making arrangements with the fire marshall and the Office of Student Life (OSL), hiring a DJ, and “mostly delegating all tasks required for this event to be successful.”

Abraham stated that every year the club “tries to build and learn from their past year and to streamline the process of organization.” The culmination of all their hard work and organization is their proudest moment, he said.

The club’s organization and hard work culminated in a colorful and lively event on April 12, from 1 PM-4 PM. An estimated 1,500 to 2,000 students attended and participated in the event. A DJ blasted music from above, and at the count-down, students bombarded each other with packets of colored powder ranging from purple to pink to green.

“One of the biggest challenges for this event is figuring out the amount of materials we need—especially powder and event t-shirts,” Singh says. This year, the club ordered about 5,000 100-gram packets of biodegradable, colored corn starch packets from a company in Utah and sold event t-shirts for $10 each.

Student participants and first-year brothers, Dylan and Shaylan Vanmali, both expressed their excitement over the event.

Dylan stated that he had grown up with stories of his father’s participation in Holi events in India, but had never gone to an event like Holi before.

“The Indus Club did a great job in creating a fun cultural event for everyone,” said D. Vanmali. “Now everyone who I have talked to already says they loved it and will plan on going every year.”

According to Singh, the event was a success. Ultimately, the event was  meant to be an inclusive and festive celebration at UCSB. Regardless of social class or ethnicity, all were welcome to connect with others and be equally bombarded with bright colors.

“Holi is all about the power of unity,” Singh said. “We come together, forget who we are, and a have a ton of fun.”