Story Update: Due to unfavorable weather conditions, EIU's Holi celebration -- originally scheduled for Friday, April 19 -- has been pushed back a week. The new date and time are reflected in the story.
There’s a good chance you don’t currently know what happens during the traditional Hindu celebration of Holi, but you don’t have to trek to India or Nepal to find out. There’s a much easier way: Just venture near the Library Quad between Noon and 2 p.m. on Friday, April 26.
That’s because EIU’s Office of Study Abroad, with sponsorship provided by University Board and Celebration: Festival of the Arts, has organized its own observation of this age-old “Festival of Colors” in conjunction with the university’s full slate of Asian Heritage Month events.
“OSA hosts a big event in the Fall semester, the Study Abroad Fair,” said Study Abroad Coordinator Kelly Holland. “In the past, we’ve hosted another fair in the spring, but haven’t seen the same attendance as in the fall. This year, we decided to focus on a fun, social event where we can get the whole campus involved.”
Once you have a handle on what happens at Holi, you’ll understand why Holland and her colleagues feel this qualifies as a fun, social event.
In a typical Holi celebration, people of all ages and professions can be found splashing water and colorful Gulal powder on friends, family and passers-by. Participants should be happy and technicolored when it's all said and done.
“Our office was attracted to the idea of brilliant colors, spring weather and an end-of-the-year celebration,” continued Holland. “Holi fits the bill perfectly and gives us the chance to collaborate with various on-campus organizations and offices in the true spirit of the festival.”
Participants are encouraged to don white T-shirts and will be armed with complimentary water and multi-colored Gulal powder. OSA will also furnish music and a photo booth, and it stresses that anyone is allowed – and encouraged – to join in.
“In the last week before classes end, this is an opportunity to share in an ancient tradition from halfway around the world and end the semester with an explosion of color,” elaborated Holland. “Whether it's stress relief or an afternoon in the sun, it's a festival intended for all people looking to celebrate each other, themselves and the end of the year.”
Holland adds that in its region of origin, Holi is actually celebrated the day after the full moon in March each year. She says it made sense to “stretch the boundaries” a bit since spring in central Illinois tends to take a while longer to surface.
As mentioned, this is just one event in a full Asian Heritage Month schedule involving numerous campus organizations but spearheaded by the Office of Minority Affairs.
“Just like with all of our heritage month celebrations here on our campus, Asian Heritage is a month to learn and appreciate Asian culture,” explained Mona Davenport, director of Minority Affairs. “As an EIU student, faculty member, or staff member, the university has made it possible for all to understand and appreciate a culture of which you may not have been aware.
“You’ll have an opportunity to participate in dances, hear lectures on Southeast Asian, and taste Asian foods from local establishments at our kickoff event,” continued Dr. Davenport. “And children will also have activities throughout the month. It is our hope that our campus is always excited about diversity and learning about cultures that might be different – learning to appreciate a global society.”
The complete schedule of Asian Heritage Month events is available here.