Month: April 2018
Diversity Program of the Month
Celebrate HOLI -The Indian Celebration of Spring!
||University of Nebraska - Lincoln
|Person in charge:
||MADE Committee of University Housing
|Target Population: 250
||Time Needed to Organize: 1 month|
|Number of People in Attendance: 100
||Date(s) of Program: 04.15.18|
|Number of People Needed to Organize: 20
||Cost of Program: $2700|
|On-Campus Population: 5700
||Chapter Size: 40|
|Origin of Program:|
What can be better than getting people of different races, religions,
denominations, and affiliations to come together in a celebrative spirit! We did
just that at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with the celebration of the Holi
festival. HOLI is a popular Indian festival that marks the arrival of spring.
Known widely as the Festival of Color, it takes place over two days, and is a
celebration of fertility, color, and love, as well as the triumph of good versus
evil. We envisioned HOLI, the Indian spring festival of colors would allow us
the opportunity of celebrating diversity through the lens of the Indian culture.
Coinciding with the explosion of colorful blooms in nature, HOLI has been
celebrated for millenniums in the Indian subcontinent and now all over the
One of the unique aspects of this event is the coming together of various
prominent campus partners with the single intention of showcasing the positive
and long lasting effects of diversity celebration. HOLI was a unique
collaboration between University Housing, Global Studies, the Office of Academic
Success & Intercultural Services and the Gaughan Multicultural Center, the
Indian Student Association, the South Asian Student Association, and RHA!
Word Count: 196
|Please give a short description of the program:|
HOLI was also an opportunity for individuals and communities to drop their
differences and playfully paint each other in the multitude of colors as seen around
in nature during this time of the year. That is exactly what we saw happen in the
coming together of a multitude of students and unique campus partners to make this
event a truly diverse celebration of humanity!
All of this would have been largely impossible without the hard work and planning
put in by the members of the Multicultural Awareness and Diversity Education
(M.A.D.E.) committee of University Housing. The committee comprised of University
Housing professional staff, namely: Christian Robinson, Veronica Tabor, Maggie
Miller, Matt Papa, Adam Fitzwater, Luke Clark, and Pankaj Desai. Furthermore, more
than 20 volunteers, including six RHA members led by Grace Hanson, made this event a
HOLI is also a time to remember that life is colorful with its various shades, ups
and downs, and one must celebrate life with enthusiasm! This is exactly what we saw
happen on a cold Sunday morning with temperature in the low 30s when about a hundred
people showed up to participate in the event! As people came in they were treated to
a full course of delicious Indian cuisine which was hugely appreciated by all the
participants! This in itself was a great cultural exposure for many since not many
had tried an entire course of Indian food before. Many students got themselves henna
tattoos to join in the celebration! The emcee explained the cultural importance of
the festival to the participants during this time and shared that HOLI is the idea
celebrating the diversity in nature and embracing the differences as complementary
parts of life itself!
What happened thereafter was a surprise to the organizers and amazed onlookers as
well! No sooner were all the participants provided with an assortment of food-based
colors than they rushed outdoors to play with the colors! This was a fun-filled time
where people chased each other around, throwing handfuls of colored powders at one
another, laughing out aloud, shouting “Happy HOLI!” In this spontaneous celebration
so many barriers were broken! The fact that so many of them spent more than 25-30
minutes outdoors unmindful of the cold was a testimony to the some invisible
barriers being broken that separate individuals from one another in an informal
Word Count: 393
|Goals of the program:|
We envisioned HOLI playing the role of bringing together students belonging to
different cultures, religions, and affiliations in a celebrative environment.
In today’s time when protectionism and sectarianism seem to be looming large
in the mainstream public discourse, it is necessary to showcase the oneness of
humanity. Within educational institutions, it is necessary that we promote the
celebration of diversity and put it into practice. Celebrating HOLI
accomplished many of these goals at UNL!
Also, for many of our international students from India, Nepal, Bangladesh,
and parts of the South Asia, this was a celebration away from home. HOLI is a
festival that is celebrated with great pomp in millions of homes and one of
the reasons for hosting it here in UNL was to connect many of these
international students with the feeling of being around family during this
time of the year. At the same time, it allowed many domestic students of Asian
heritage to participate in this ancient festival and reconnect to their roots.
HOLI was also an opportunity for many domestic students to immerse in a
culture different from their own and experience how people from around the
world cherish similar aspects of life!
Word Count: 199
|Positive and lasting effects of the program:|
This program has positively impacted our community in more than a few ways. To
begin with, this event showcased yet another diverse culture and afforded the
participants at UNL an opportunity at cultural immersion. This ancient festival of
spring that inspires many color runs around the world assumed yet another shade at
the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In that sense, it helped South Asians feel a
sense of pride at having their culture being showcased and shared with the
Organizing a large-scale event like HOLI involved a lot of people who were each
required to fulfill their responsibilities towards this common goal. HOLI has thus
emerged as an excellent opportunity for event management and leadership
development for many of our students who led from the front.
Many students came to the organizers and said how they were homesick and
celebrating HOLI made them feel closer to home. So many others said they enjoyed
the Indian food and were thankful to be able to play with colors like this for the
very first time! It was really wonderful to see people from different identity
groups come together in such belongingness and informality to celebrate together.
Word Count: 195
|Short evaluation of the program:|
Certainly, one of the main strengths of celebrating HOLI at UNL was promoting it
as a diversity initiative that was aimed at connecting domestic students to their
international peers. It was easy for students to connect with each other in such
an informal setting while partaking in the customs of another culture. Many
students had never participated in an event like this before and to be introduced
to a traditional festival like this was something that they really appreciated.
Similarly, with authentic Indian cuisine not readily available, many students
appreciated being able to enjoy a full course Indian meal.
One of the main challenges of organizing this festival is ensuring that proper
precaution is taken care to ensure the cleanliness of the venue and buildings
after the event is also very vital. With participants tending to become very
excited, it is possible that not all may adhere to stipulations that people not
bring colors inside university buildings. One way this can be ensured is to make
sure to have volunteers posted by the entry/ exit points to make sure that people
do not reenter the building drenched in colored powder.
Word Count: 191
|How could this program be adapted to other campuses?|
The best aspect of organizing HOLI is the ease with which it gets
students interested and excited! Coupled with good food, the idea of
playing with colors sounds exciting to a large number of people and
therefore publicity becomes very easy.
The event costs are mainly associated with colored powder. Usually
colors for about 300 people cost about $700. This money could be raised
through funding by groups such as RHA, NRHH, the Multicultural center,
etc. Many multicultural student organizations, especially the Indian
Students’ Association, would be willing to be event partners. Depending
on how much money is raised, organizers could also serve Indian food to
people. Offering ethnic food draws a lot of people to the event.
Many campus organizations are looking for volunteering opportunities and
organizers would do well to have a large pool of volunteers. With a core
planning team and at least one all-volunteer meeting, the organization
of this event becomes very efficient with everyone understanding their
roles before and on the day of the event.
It would be a great idea to add a performance showcase to the event
while everyone is eating! This event would find takers on any campus!
Word Count: 197