Dusting off winter with Hindu celebration of Holi

The Indian Subcontinent Student Association celebrates the beginning of spring with a Holi festival. Brittany Tankersley | Photo Editor

By Avery Ballmann | Staff Writer

The Indian Subcontinent Student Association (ISSA) welcomed spring in an array of colors, dances, songs and samosas on Fountain Mall on Thursday.

Holi is a Hindu festival that is also known as the festival of color, the arrival of spring and a day to celebrate friendship. This is the first time ISSA has held the event since the start of the pandemic. Dallas junior and ISSA social chair Sara Shalwani said when they held Holi two years ago, she remembers the diverse turnout of the crowd.

“It was nice to see diversity and people that aren’t our culture taking part in our cultural traditions and activities,” Shalwani said. “That’s why I wanted to be social chair this semester, because I knew I would be putting on Holi.”

Shalwani and others in ISSA had been planning Holi since January. At the festival, ISSA invited Taal, the Bollywood dance group at Baylor, to perform an opening number and kick off the celebration.

Plano senior Ritu Bhatt, a member of ISSA and a performer in Taal, said it means a lot to her to share her culture that has been passed down to her at Baylor.

“I think it’s really awesome because it’s a way to express the heritage of all of the Indian subcontinent cultures,” Bhatt said. “There are a lot of different various styles we try to perform, there’s south Indian, Bollywood, hip hop that we try to fuse in there.”

Taal excited the crowd with their upbeat music and energy. At the end of their performance, they did a team chant and cheered one another on.

Dallas freshman Kirti Chamkura performed “Breakup Song” and “Tum Hi Ho Bandhu” after the dance routine which she both sang in Hindu. Chamkura said there is no specific symbolism with these songs; they’re meant to get everyone in a “good spirit.”

After the performances, ISSA members handed packets of colorful powder to the crowd. Participants all stood in the middle of Fountain Mall with their white T-shirts and smiles and began to rip their bags open. The crowd then came together for a group photo and the countdown to the color festival began.

As the crowd continued counting down, the energy crescendoed and the meaning of Holi came to life. A cloud of colorful dust covered the lawn and transported the participators to another world. Everyone erupted in laughter and cheers as they threw dust on their friends and strangers.

“It’s a really nice way to showcase different styles and different aspects of our culture,” Bhatt said. “It really means a lot to do this every year on campus, especially at a campus like Baylor.”

ISSA also hosts Gateway To India on campus which will be April 2. Arlington senior and president of ISSA Inaara Tharani welcomed partakers in Holi and future events.

“ISSA strives to spread awareness about South Asian culture, and create diversity and pluralism on campus,” Tharani said. “So that’s why we put this event on, we’ve had this event for a couple of years now and are just ready to get Baylor students involved in our culture.”