Month: April 2018


Diversity Program of the Month
Celebrate HOLI -The Indian Celebration of Spring!

School: University of Nebraska - Lincoln Region: MACURH
Person in charge: MADE Committee of University Housing Nominator: Pankaj Desai

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 world.

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 reality!

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 manner.

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 community.

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

Date of entry into database: 2018-04-17 17:36:24

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