The Hindu Student Association hosted a tabling event titled “What’s Holi?” on March 16, informing Baruch College students of the Hindu spring festival of Holi through small activities and food.
Also known as the “Festival of Colors,” Holi is traditionally a Hindu holiday celebrated by those in India and Nepal, though it has become popular with many non-Hindu people in South Asia and beyond. Meant to celebrate the arrival of spring and the start of a new year, the festival includes celebrants throwing colored powders on one other to represent flowers blooming, the harvest season and the varying colors associated with spring. Food, dance and music are also included in celebrations.
“You don’t have to be spiritual to [participate in Holi], you just need to be social which is a lot what Hinduism is about—being part of a community and participating in it and having a give-and-take relationship,” said Alba Rajanibala, president of HSA.
The table was split up into four different activities to which students could walk up and which they could participate. One activity invited students to paint a mini-canvas with a reason why they were looking forward to spring. HSA members would then take a photo of each student’s canvas and post it to Instagram, with the student with the most votes on Instagram winning a prize.
Another activity was a face painting contest, allowing students to pair together and paint one other’s faces around the theme of spring, to win prizes. HSA also gave out mandala coloring booklets and crayons for students to color after the tabling, as well as serving chaat—a dish that uses a samosa as a base and layers different chutneys and toppings.
“We’re just informing the Baruch community about what [Holi] means to the Hindu population in New York and Baruch,” said Rajanibala about the tabling.
Due to the ongoing construction on the 25th Street Plaza, HSA is not allowed to have its “Holi on the Plaza” event, where students could participate in Holi by throwing colored powder on one other, according to Rajanibala. HSA will be unable to host the “Holi on the Plaza” event at Baruch even after construction is completed, due to the type of pavement being installed in the plaza.
For this year, explained Rajanibala, HSA hopes to host its Holi event at Queens College, in conjunction with the Queens College chapter of HSA. Paperwork for the event has been filed and is pending approval as of press time.
“It’s kind of bittersweet. We can open it up to more CUNY students, but we can’t host it at Baruch and it won’t be just a Baruch thing, which it was before,” said Rajanibala about moving the event to another CUNY campus.
She was disappointed that HSA was forced to move the Holi event, as “Holi on the Plaza” garnered much recognition at Baruch in the past from students.
It is unclear if the prohibition of plaza events extends only to “Holi on the Plaza” or has greater implications for other club and campus events.
As of press time, the Office of Student Life could not be reached for comment in regard to the situation.