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Boston University coordinates Holi despite weather delay

Bostonians filled Cummington Mall on Boston University’s campus midday for a two-hour Holi festival. (Photo by Thalia Lauzon/Boston University News Service)

By Thalia Lauzon

Boston University News Service

Boston University’s Cummington Mall was covered in layers of multicolored powders, water and cheer after the BU Hindu Cultural Association’s (HCA) Holi celebration on Sunday, March 26, which faced a rain delay that pushed the festivities and planning back a day. 

With about 2,000 tickets sold and hundreds of bags of powder thrown onto attendees, according to HCA board member Vikrant Sabharwal, Holi celebrated revitalization, vibrancy and spring through colors. 

Holi, also known as the “Festival of Colors,” is celebrated on the first full moon of March for a two-day celebration that includes lighting bonfires the first night and throwing colored powder or water the following day. This year, the religious event fell on March 7 and March 8 in India, according to the Hindu American Foundation.

“It’s really just about letting loose for one day, having fun with friends and, considering we are on the BU campus, being able to expose friends that are not Indian, friends that are not part of our heritage, to what we have going on here because it’s just a great tradition,” Sabharwal said.

Sabharwal said the festival welcomed any BU and non-BU celebrators to come out and get spattered head-to-toe in a mist of rainbow colors, making the event one of the largest Holi events in Boston. 

Boston students tossed powdered paint into the air. (Photo by Thalia Lauzon/BU News Service)

HCA began planning the event over two months in advance and communicated with the Student Activities Office, BU and ticket holders to manage the large-scale celebration in accordance with the school’s rules and prepare for conflicts — like coordinating a rain date in the event of weather issues — said HCA board member Yashita Rane. 

The club announced on Instagram the Thursday before the event that the celebrations would be held on its back-up day due to the projected all-day rain on Saturday. 

“We just said: Everything is going to happen the same way. We are going to post that it’s delayed on social media and move on from that,” Rane said. “No weather will ever stop us.”

Plastic cups of multicolored powdered paint were distributed to attendees as part of the religious festival. (Photo by Thalia Lauzon/BU News Service)

HCA also coordinated the initial plans and changes with the featured music provider, Rohan Awaru, known as DJ Rohann.

“What other things would make you feel good apart from seeing everyone smiling and being happy and dancing?” Awaru said. 

Students danced on stage to music courtesy of DJ Rohann at Holi 2023. (Photo by Thalia Lauzon/BU News Service)

This year was Awaru’s second time working the event. He collaborated with Boston University and Student Production Services (SPS) to handle his sound levels and help run his set during the two-hour celebration. 

SPS worker Grace Morales said the only concerns after avoiding Saturday’s rain were the wind and sound levels for the equipment. 

Holi participants filled plastic bags with water to dump on other celebrators as part of the springtime renewal tradition.  (Photo by Thalia Lauzon/BU News Service)

SPS adapted to the day’s needs by using sandbags and plastic covers to protect the speakers and cords from the wind, powdered paint and water to sustain the high-energy dancing and music. The event ended with a single speaker overheating throughout the run, according to Morales.

Thousands of BU and non-BU students were welcomed to the celebration no matter their religious affiliation or background to cover themselves with color. (Photo by Thalia Lauzon/BU News Service)

The dance performance by BU’s Raas-Garba team, Fatakada, was graduate student Divya Venkatesh’s favorite moment. Venkatesh originally planned to attend the festival with about 10 friends but came with two due to the date change.

BU’s Raas dance group Fatakada performed an energetic performance in front of the DJ stage. (Photo by Thalia Lauzon/BU News Service)

“It was all fantastic,” said Venkatesh, who had celebrated the cultural event in her home country of India.“ [The delay] didn’t stop me. Nothing would stop me from coming.” 

“Cause BU Holi is unstoppable,” said Prashanth Uppudi, a Northeastern graduate student who came with Venkatesh. 

Holi participants got pumped up for the music and dancing at Sunday’s event. (Photo by Thalia Lauzon/BU News Service)

BU’s Holi festival was graduate student Keyur Vaidya’s first U.S. Holi event after celebrating the holiday annually in India since childhood.  

“We were just trying to recreate the moment over here,” Vaidya said. “BU is trying to bring all the cultures together in one part so it will be great for everyone to enjoy the different cultures.”

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