Rensselaer students, led by the Indian Students Association (ISA), celebrated the Hindu holiday Holi on March 26 on Robison Field. More than 250 people participated this year, the largest group to date.
According to the ISA, Holi is a celebration brought about from a 7th century Sanskrit drama called Ratnaval. Hindus welcome the spring and celebrate new life and energy by smearing each other with paint and colored powder. In addition to the colorful fun, the event included food and music.
ISA has been hosting the Holi celebration since 2008 and the event has grown in size each year. According to Akshay Bommireddi, co-president of ISA, “not only has the RPI student community been attending, but also the local Indian community.”
The ISA includes the local community in several of their events. In the fall, they team up with the Albany Hindu temple and host the local Indian community for Garba, two nights of traditional dancing. In the spring, they host a formal. “This year we are teaming up with the ISA from the State University at Albany and we are holding a joint formal together. We are expecting around 200 people to attend and it is always our last big event of the year,” said Bommireddi.
Other events include the annual Diwali show, featuring student performances and Indian food, and samosa sales, which raise money to offset the cost of the events. “Whatever money is left over, we donate to charity. Last year we donated $1,000 to a charity called Pratham, which primary deals with the illiteracy rate for children in India,” said Bommireddi.
“One thing we really strive to achieve with this club is to raise cultural awareness and bring communities together through these awesome events,” she said.
Photographs courtesy of student photographer Demetrius Green