Stony Brook University celebrated its first “Festival of Colors” in honor of Holi Wednesday during Campus Life Time at the Wang Center.
The event was sponsored by the Center for India Studies, the Faculty Student Association and Campus Dining Services.
At the festival, students experienced authentic food, henna tattoos and performances from the a cappella group Stony Brook YUVA and dance group Stony Brook Bhangra.
Deborah DiFranco, Provost’s Liaison, was a key planner for the event.
“We were hoping to educate the faculty, students and staff on the holiday,” DiFranco said. “We had the opportunity through food to have a cultural experience.”
“We wanted to maintain dialogue with the campus community and the Curry Kitchen and also maintain the ethnicity of the food,” she continued.
Holi is one of the major Hindu holidays that is celebrated at the end of winter.
“It is about having fun, living enjoying,” Shrikant Iyer, who attended the event, said. There are many myths behind the meaning of the holiday. Iyer explained that a lot of the people who celebrate the holiday in this generation do not necessarily know much about it and for them, it is all about the colors. “It is a celebration of good over evil. A story is a story, what the true origins are nobody knows,” Iyer said.
The food served was authentic Indian food that one would not find regularly at Jasmine’s Curry Kitchen. Aloo Tikki Chaat, Bhel Puri, Dahi Vada and Thandai were among some of the special food served.
S.N. Sridhar, director of the Center for India Studies, said that the holiday is “a festival of love.” He explained how the “Festival of Lights” celebration last semester was a huge success and that it was encouraging for them to put on a festival this semester to celebrate another one of India’s major holidays.
Chanda Vaz, owner and operator of the Curry Kitchen, helped prepare the food for the festival.
Vaz and Sridhar both agree that it is important for the students on campus to have a “home away from home where they can celebrate the holiday.”
Part of the festival traditionally involves celebrators covering themselves in dry colors. However, Stony Brook participants did not get so messy. Splashes of color on the faces of those who came to celebrate were seen scattered all over Jasmine.
To add to the cultural feel, students were also able to receive free henna tattoos as well as the opportunity to purchase Indian jewelry, both courtesy of Femina beauty salon.
Students Gilmary George and Isha Sheth, who work for the Office of the Provost Liaison, helped to organize the festival, which took about two months to plan.
“We wanted to enlighten people about the culture,” George said. “Jasmine could be much more authentic. We want to bring tradition to school.” The girls were pleased with the amount of support from faculty.
After eating, students and faculty gathered to watch a performance from Stony Brook’s South Asian a cappella group YUVA.
Before the festival ended, a performance from the Stony Brook Bhangra dance group was given. The upbeat cultural dancing caught the attention of everybody in the room, who cheered throughout the performance.
“Anything to do with India, we were more than willing to perform,” Kiranjit Singh, a Bhangra dancer said. “I would like to see more culturally diverse programs like this on campus.”
The festival received positive feedback from students who attended. Domenick Fiore described the festival as “inspiring.”
“It’s the first event I went out of my way to go to,” he said.
The turnout for the event was impressive and many students agreed that they would like to see more events like this on campus.