The Claremont Colleges Celebrate Holi at Walker Beach

By Eliza Silverman '14Copy Editor

On April 1 members of the 5Cs came out to Pomona’s Walker Beach to celebrate Holi, the festival of color which officially fell in the latter half of March this year. The holiday falls in the Hindu Calendar’s month of Phalgun, and varies as to specific dates depending on when the full moon falls that year.

The celebration’s Facebook event, which promised free Indian food, great music and an epic colored-powder-and-water fight, was sent out to virtually every member of the 5C community. The event served to spread the word about the relatively unknown religious holiday. Holi is a culturally prominent Indian holiday; it is the Hindus’ colorful spring festival. The festival revolves around one main day—known as Dhuli Vandana in Sanskrit—and is celebrated by people throwing colored powder and water at each other.

Holi can be regarded as a celebration of differences and brotherhood. It has traditionally been celebrated without any distinction of caste, creed, color, race or status. The act of throwing powder and water—and subsequently having it thrown in return and ending up looking like the same crazy, colorful mess as everyone else—breaks barriers between individuals otherwise unlike or unlikely to interact under normal circumstances.

The word “Holi” is derived from the world “hola,” meaning to offer prayer to the Almighty. The mythical character Holika, who deliberately disobeyed a devotee of the Lord, was reduced to ashes as punishment. Holi is celebrated by Hindus as an annual reminder that those who dismiss or torture the devotee of God will be turned to ash—a powder like the colorful pigment thrown—while those who love God—the powder-throwing celebrants—shall be saved. Holi also ushers in the season of spring.

The Walker Beach Holi offered multitudinous colored powder, hoses and buckets alike to soak friends—and perhaps a few strangers—with water. There was, as promised, free food and pounding Indian music to dance to. Those who came unprepared for the festive color-hurling hours in the afternoon sun may have left with stained clothes and hair, sunburned skin and some sore muscles from all the color-feuding and dancing. But the fun to be had at Holi counteracts any consideration of these consequences as really being consequential at all. The Claremont Colleges’ annual celebration of Holi is a friendly color-battle with friends and strangers, a chance to indulge in good food and Indian music and an overall good time. It is an annual celebration of colorful equality worth attending with or without regard to its Hindu origins.