Holi, a festival of spring

Holi, a festival of spring that has lots of food, merriment, and apparently color. Color? Yes, color. A day seemingly devoted to throwing brightly colored powder at people ? something that may immediately intrigue many people, especially at Carnegie Mellon. Students? curiosity was even more piqued when posters began appearing around campus advertising for the very same prismatic festival held by student organization, OM, this past Saturday in Schenley Park.

On a glorious sunny spring day anyone who had never participated had the chance to celebrate Holi. A brisk wind tousled the treetops as students congregated on the platform where the event was supposed to start. Five dollars paid for a lunch buffet.

Supposedly, t-shirts were going to be given out along with lunch, but, disappointingly, they ran out of the well-designed tops long before attendees finished showing up.

After paying, everyone waited around until the food arrived. A slow-moving monstrous line formed, curving around an entire concrete platform.
After about an hour of chatting, standing in line, and watching groups pour colored soda on each other, the end of the line finally arrived at the buffet.

?I wasn?t going to buy food, but now I am actually hungry!? said Neha Padhi, a first-year ECE/BME major, as her section of the line neared the buffet.
One spicy chickpea dish, a tomato cream sauce and paneer dish, and a sweet dessert, along with naan, rice, and drinks, were laid out for the taking. Everyone loaded their plates, and either walked up the hill a ways to sit on the wet ground in the shade or wandered to the edge of the flat to sit in the sun. While most people ate, the festival began to pick up its pace. A small mud pit began to form on the one side of the terrace and a few people started to take advantage of its messiness. Even as some were just were finishing their meal, people began to buy color packets at a stand on the hill above the concrete pad where lunch was originally served.

Quickly, others finished lunch and walked through the burgeoning clouds of bright color to purchase their first set of colored dust. Each packet held several handfuls of fine powder in all the shade combinations of the rainbow. Friends set down their stuff on the side of Flagstaff, took off their shoes, and began tossing, smacking, and patting the dust onto each other while half-heartedly dodging any powder launched at them. Very soon, everybody looked like confused spectra.

The dust, although colorful and cheerful, tasted quite bitter. It burned the eyes a bit, and anyone who did not heed the warning about not wearing contacts would soon have a pink hue through their lenses.

Though wind would sometimes carry the fine particles away before touching anyone, the effect of powder in the air was stunning. Clouds of glorious color floated all around the hill. One way to make the dye less likely to blow away was to mix it with water in its bag before spreading it to other people.

This was an all-out friendly festival. People did not just use their powder on friends, but would also run amok in the crowd sweeping their hands left and right to smear tint on anyone within reach.

?You don?t quite have enough color,? said one girl as she patted friends and strangers alike before running back into the crowd of painted individuals from whence she came.

After some time, though, the small pit of mud became larger as people begin to wrestle in it and toss mud along with color. It was still quite exuberantly friendly. People just wandered around with a plethora of bright colors ... and sticky brownness. They seemed to be having quite a bit of fun becoming messy rainbows.
Justin Mathew, a junior in economics celebrating his first Holi, said his favorite part was ?coloring? his friends, and his least favorite part was when his friends ?colored? him. He drew the line at their attempts to push him in the mud and avoided that smelly fate.

The mood changed a bit when several people brought out food to toss along with the dust. Eggs and catsup were the ammo of choice. The group that brought them were only trying to hit certain people, their friends or enemies, but were rather bad at aiming. Eggs rolled in several directions outside the unofficial playing field toward innocent bystanders, and catsup probably gushed between the toes of the many unshod feet. They seemed to have fun as they merrily tossed mud, soda, water, powder, and the new food additions.

About the eggs and catsup, Mathew said, ?That?s not part of the festival spirit.... I might as well bring a baseball bat.?

After finishing her romp, Padhi took pictures of her speckled clothing and face, and decided she wanted to frame her shirt instead of trying to wash it.
One can only imagine the colored showers every one of the participants had afterwards.