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Holi Moly

Zach Mintz, Multimedia Staff

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On Saturday, March 12th, students and faculty alike took to the Upper School sports courts to celebrate an ancient Hindu tradition known as Holi. Upper School Math Teacher Neethi Venkateswaran kindly provided her thoughts on Holi’s religious significance as well as a review of the event: “Holi is an expression of the vitality of life. It is a festival that celebrates spring; the rejuvenation of nature. People celebrate by joyfully and good-naturedly throwing powdered color and colored water on each other. It is all about spreading good cheer – especially when casting off the winter doldrums (and yes it gets cold in India, too!). Some Hindus say that the origin of Holi stems from a little boy, Prahlada, who overcame his evil father and defeated a demoness named Holika.”

Venkateswaran continued, “My religion professor, Douglas Brooks, always likes to describe Holi as follows:  “Holi is an everyone is fair game moment of ecstatic mischief, relief, collective expression, one that temporarily levels the playing field of caste and gender and identity so that everyone is —but for a moment in the seam of the natural fabric of time—equally saturated in love, lust, “blood,” and ecstasy in celebration of spring’s (chronic predictable) reemergence. Think the opposite of the autumn post-harvest and more May-pole: we move now from dark to light, cold to warm, from fallow fields to emergent life, inside comes outside, repressed feelings burst forth, the “blood” inside comes out (kumkum everywhere). Liminality appears and we cross the threshold for a brief foray into the collective social awareness to release our visceral, primal feelings in an “acceptable” way that douses us with color and “heat” and “light.” Once complete, the world then can go back to being “normal.” This is how locative maps of the universe can map the territory, explaining our human need for ritual.”

       Clad in white or clothes they did not mind getting a little dirty, participants enjoyed hot dogs grilled in the gym while teachers set up the event. Despite a light rain, students piled out of the gym doors and filled onto the upper courts, eagerly awaiting the festivities. Upon hearing the magic word (GO!), everyone scampered towards bowls gleaming with freshly poured, vibrant powder. Scooping out of technicolor bowls, participants flung handfuls of powder at one another, coating their friends head to toe in every color imaginable. For half an hour, the campus was filled with nothing but smiles and shrieks as celebrators were blindsided by clouds of color, filling the humid air with a rainbow haze. Some teachers even brought their children along to join in the festivities! The celebration spread to bystanders, for Spirit Master Junior Henry Yeary, who documented the event on @ChaBoiTuffy, and Junior Eli Baden Lasar, who was home from New York, unexpectedly found themselves on the receiving ends of many colorful embraces. Even last weekend’s harsh weather could not put a damper on the festivities–El Niño probably just felt excluded!

Venkateswaran even provided a closing thought: “Holi is celebrated in all parts of South Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even the United States. I love how this has now become a Head-Royce tradition of closing out our spirit week. Everyone participates good-naturedly, and even helps to clean up! I especially love seeing people of all ages interact and just enjoy each other’s company. Thanks to all for participating!”


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The student news site of Head-Royce School
Holi Moly