For Suhaniya Aumbhagavan, a senior, biology major and her sister Ayisha, a senior Information Technology major; they grew up in Rochester, New York where the hindu population was plentiful and there was a temple to attend.
When they transferred to Georgia Southern in 2014 they discovered that there are only a few of Hindus here and not a place for them to worship at. “The closest temple is in Savannah, Jacksonville, and Augusta; so my sister and I just pray to a shrine at home.”
There are no Hindu organizations on campus, but Suhaniya and Ayisha explained that if it wasn’t for the fact that they are graduating, creating a club would be something they’re interested in.
“Georgia Southern is so welcoming to different people, being Hindu has not been an issue here. I have Hindu friends and friends that are not, I tend to look past the race and religion card.”
The festival of colors
The Multicultural Student Center and the Center for International Studies at Georgia Southern University recently hosted their first annual Hindu based event on campus, a Holi Festival. The event celebrates friendship, happiness, unity, and Hindu traditions on GSU’s campus.
Also known as The Festival of colors, this festival celebrates the arrival of spring and the victory of faith and truth over the bad and evil. In India, it is a time where participants are smeared with different colored powder known as ‘gulal’ on each other representing love, togetherness, and joy. The mixing of colors symbolizes the mixture of different races, gender, age, sex, and wealth, a day centered around unity and peace.
“I was very excited in discovering that Holi festival would be coming to GSU. I invited like all of my friends to come to it because I wanted them to get a taste of my religion, it’s something that I hold dear to my heart.” Aumbhagavan said.
Suhaniya goes on to say how fun and energetic the Holi Festival was. “It was a time where my friends and other students just let everything go to have fun,” Aumbhagavan said.
When asked about something she thinks would make for a better Holi experience, she responded with: “adding a small puja, a prayer ritual, before the event,” Aumbhagavan said.
[quote]“It was one of my favorite events at Georgia Southern University,” said Aumbhagavan. [/quote]
Putting the GSU spin on a Hindu tradtion
Here at Georgia Southern University; tradition is everywhere. In the act of celebrating Holi, Georgia Southern students put their own twist to really make it a GSU event.
[quote]“It was a true ‘Georgia Southern’ Holi,” Jacek Lubecki, center for international studies director said.[/quote]
“A lot of people may think it’s weird to throw paint at each other but Georgia Southern’s very accepting of all types of traditions,” Christopher Hamb, a junior international relations major, said.
The event was filled with breakdancing, laughing, hugging, and students chatting the ol’ “Georgia- Southern.” Lubecki said there is a strong possibility in the future for The Holi Festival to continue.
What does Holi mean to you?
“The act of bring different kind of people,” Maggie Miller Freshman Pre Nursing Major
“It’s a celebration of life, color, and happiness. It’s amazing that we can do something like this without people being judged” Lizaida Perez-Collazo Freshman English Major
“It’s a time for people who had problems in the year to fix it and throw color and be happy,” Moon Mccroskey Sophomore Nursing Major
Legends and Origins of Holi
There are several incidents that took place during different times and places. Each legend has it’ own significance and contribution to the festival. These are two of the legends that are associated with the Holi festival.
There was a king named Hiranyakashipu in India who was evil and demon like. His young brother was killed by Lord Vishnu and this angered him more to want to get revenge, so to gain power, he prayed and prayed when finally he prayers were answered. He started to get full of himself and told everyone to treat and worship like God. Prahalad, the king’s son, refused to worship his father and continued worshiping Lord Vishnu. This cruel king planned to kill his own son because of this by burning him. The King’s plan was to use his sister, Holika, who was immune to the fire to hold Prahalad. Prahalad was reciting through the name Lord Vishnu the whole time didn’t burn but instead, Holika did. The defeat of Holika signifies the burning of all that is bad. After this, Lord Vishnu killed his father, Hiranyakashipu.
The colors part of Holi comes from a legend of the story Radha and Krishna. Once Krishna complained to his mother about his dark skin and why Radha’s was not. His Mother Yashoda told his to apply color to Radha’s face and see how her complexion changes. So a young Krishna played a prank by throwing colors at people, thus creating the festival of colors, Holi.