South Asian Students’ Society plans Holi event

By Chris Yee
[senior culture writer]

The newly established South Asian Students’ Society (SA^2), in partnership with WOOW (Women Organizing Opportunities for Women), will be hosting Kwantlen’s first-ever Holi event March 8.

Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours, is both a celebration of the coming of spring, and a reflection of Hindu mythology.

Bonfires are lit to commemorate what the legendary escape of Prahlad, the young son of a demon king called Hiranyakashipu, who resented Prahlad’s worship of the Hindu god Vishnu and forced him to sit on a pyre with his purportedly fireproof aunt Holika.

Astonishingly, as the legend goes, Prahlad’s worship of Vishnu saved him from the flames while Holika, for whom the festival of Holi is named, was burned. On a less morbid note, Holi also commemorates the divine love between Vishnu and the goddess Radha.

According to legend, Vishnu complained to his mother about how his dark skin contrasted with Radha’s light skin — and so Vishnu’s mother applied colours to Radha’s face.

Held at the end of the winter season on the Indian lunar month Phalguna (corresponding to late February or March on the Gregorian calendar), Holi lasts two days in most places, but goes on for up to 16 days in the Northern Indian cities of Vrindavan and Mathura, places said to be Vishnu’s childhood homes.

Revellers, according to the festival’s Wikipedia entry, “go absolutely crazy,” throwing coloured powders at each other, engaging in rambunctious parades, eating lots of snacks and drinking thandai (a traditional drink containing almonds, pistachios, rose petals — and sometimes bhang, made from the leaves and buds of the Cannabis indica plant.)

Of course, Kwantlen’s version of the event will be somewhat pared down from this revelry — squished down to one day and involving none of the libations – but it will involve free food and South Asian dance performances by students.

Still, what Holi celebration is complete without the traditional playing with colours?

As the event’s Facebook page advises on account of this part of Holi, the dress code for this event is “traditionally white, but anything that you guys are comfortable with and can get dirty.”

Kwantlen’s Holi celebrations will take place on March 8, from 11:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. in the Surrey Main Courtyard.

For more information, check out the Facebook event page at



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