UMD Indian Student Association Hosts Holi Celebration at McKeldin Mall

By Rachel McCrea
For the Diamondback

University of Maryland students celebrated Holi at the McKeldin Mall on Sunday in an event hosted by the Indian Student Association and Smiles From Miles Away. Participants threw colored pigments to cover themselves from head to toe in greens, blues, yellows, pinks and reds as music played to celebrate the traditional Festival of Colours.

Hindu chaplain Reverend Kiran Sankhla said Holi celebrates the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil. The festival has its roots in the Bhagavad Gita, a Hindu religious text.

“[Holi is] a happy and happy festival,” Sankhla said. “Everyone can participate”

(Taneen Momeni/The Diamondback)

The fundraising event was organized by university student organizations Smiles From Miles Away and the Indian Student Association. Attendees could purchase colors and a white t-shirt, with proceeds going to SFMA’s fundraising efforts.

The SFMA has partnered with the Little India Foundation in New Delhi to raise funds for disadvantaged families in the area. The organization plans to donate all the money raised on Sunday to the foundation.

“Since last semester, we have been organizing cultural events to raise funds for access to health care and education at home,” said SFMA co-chair Shivika Gaind, a biology and psychology student.

(Taneen Momeni/The Diamondback)

The SFMA collaborated with the ISA to plan the festival.

Gaind and Aliyah Patel, another SFMA co-chair and a biology and psychology student, hope to raise funds and festival memberships.

“Bringing together different organizations across Maryland brings more people together…I think it’s a lot more fun to collaborate,” said ISA Treasurer Shiv Rathod, a computer science major.

Kritik Mirg throws colored powder at his friends. (Taneen Momeni/The Diamondback)

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Although the university has hosted Holi celebrations in the past, COVID-19 prevented the festival from taking place last year.

“One of the reasons we wanted to do it this semester was because no one had done it last year,” Patel said.

Rathod also said, “We’re happy to have the opportunity to come back and come to campus and have these kinds of events.”

Many participants celebrate Holi from an early age in their own communities. However, this is most people’s first time attending a celebration on the college campus.

The colored powder covers the ground. (Taneen Momeni/The Diamondback)

“In India, it was a massive festival with family and friends,” said Yash Agarwal, a freshman architecture student who grew up in India. Her favorite part of Holi is “the community…just the people around [you]and make friends.

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Both Patel and Gaind feel a personal connection to Holi. Gaind describes his family’s visit to India for Holi as a “central memory”. She celebrated the festival with her cousins, one of whom recently passed away.

“It’s more of a family significance to me,” Gaind said.

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