Holi Fest Brings Colour to KPU

The Hindu spring festival was celebrated on the Surrey campus
Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor

Holi (3)
Students and staff celebrate the Hindu festival of Holi in KPU Surrey’s Cedar building on Mar. 10. (Alyssa Laube)

Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors, is a celebration of new life, love, fertility, and joy. Every year, it occurs on the last full moon of the Hindu lunar month of Phalguna, falling on the 13th and 14th of March in 2017.

A few days early, on Mar. 10, students and staff at KPU celebrated Holi on the Surrey campus. The event was organized by the International Students Office, with International Student Life Coordinator Waheed Taiwo taking the lead on its creation and execution.

“We try to listen to our students,” says Taiwo, who decided to hold a Holi celebration after student orientation at the beginning of the semester.

Generally, the festival is symbolic of cherishing good’s triumph over evil. Holi is connected to several tales in Indian mythology, such as the story of blue-skinned Krishna and Radha—lovers who overcome having different skin colours by painting Radha’s skin blue to match her beloved’s.

“After the orientation, we tried to put on some music, and unfortunately it had already been three hours by then so we had to start running off,” says Taiwo. “That’s when we knew we had to put on an event which would give the opportunity to dance, because most of our events are mostly sitting down. A majority of our students come from India, and so, I thought, ‘What’s a better way to encourage dance and song than Holi?’”

The students were clearly excited by the celebration, given the number of people dancing and singing in the Cedar building’s gymnasium during the event. A DJ spinning Punjabi music stood at a mixing table next to a projector screen showing live footage of the room while Taiwo welcomed students to the Holi festivities, capping off his speech with a few dance moves of his own. Multicoloured balloons covered the floor and hung off of the walls around a large, open space designed for lounging and dancing.

Uncharacteristic for KPU events, the dance floor was filled with between 20 and 50 people moving and laughing all throughout the afternoon. More sat in the rows of seats before a small stage or mulled around the room to eat, drink, and chat. At 3:00pm, Bhangra dancers performed in the gymnasium, and an hour later, the famous and aesthetically astounding ritual of playfully tossing coloured powders into the air began. Some threw handfuls of neon powder at their friends, strangers, or towards the ceiling. Students uninterested in dirtying their outfits could also choose to get henna done on their hands, snack on assorted Indian foods, or simply take the time to relax with their friends during the event.

“As you can see, it has a lot of interest from a majority of the students, so that was one of the reasons,” says Taiwo. “As the International Student Life Coordinator, I’m required to put on events for our students who are international on-campus. I already had a list of events that we need, but every once in awhile, I have the opportunity to put on some new things, and Holi is one of the things I have decided to have.”

Taiwo is hoping to hold a similar event next year, since 2017’s spring semester marked the first time that a large-scale, student-focused Holi festival was held on campus.