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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024
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'It feels like home’ Mercer Masala celebrates another happy Holi

Once labeled by Time Magazine as India's "most vivid, joyous festival," Holi is a celebration traditionally celebrated in India and Nepal that is now observed in communities across the globe. One of those communities is Mercer Masala, a club focused on the celebration and campus education of south-Asian cultures.

On Black field, students received a gift, delicious samosas and covered each other in colorful powders to celebrate the colorful festival with water guns, fun music and good food, all integral parts of Holi's history and international experience.

"It's a celebration of good over evil," Priya Patel '24, president of Mercer Masala said. "Holi is the festival of colors, it is the festival of spring, lots of people celebrate this all over south Asia."

President Patel also mentioned that while it was hard to get home for many students for a holiday not officially observed by the school, having a yearly celebration on campus helped solidify a welcoming, solid community for students looking for some comfort.

"It feels like home," she said. "A lot of these students live on campus and don't get the opportunity to travel back and celebrate with their families. So we try to bring our culture to campus so they can not feel as homesick, because this is a big deal in our culture, and in Hinduism."

This year, Holi, Ramadan and Holy Week all fall during the same time. The Fresh Food Company prepares a Halal meal at night for students who are fasting during the daylight hours, a significant part of Ramadan.

The holi powders, also called gulal, traditionally come from local South Asian agricultural products like blue from indigo, green from neem and henna leaves, yellow from turmeric and marigold and red from pomegranates and sandalwood.

Holi is also celebrated with pichkari: water guns that spray colorful water at festival participants, solidifying the powder on fabric, skin and the earth.

Holi, as a part of Hinduism, is a festival that is associated with many different gods, stories and traditions in Hinduism. One such story, Co-President Rhut Patel '25 said, is that of the daitya Hiranyakashipu and his son Prahlada, who worshipped Vishnu. Vishnu saves Prahlada from his father, and the story is celebrated the night before Holi, Choti Holi, with bonfires.

Other stories about Holi's origin involve other gods under the umbrella of the vedic religion, but the key part for Mercer students, President Patel said, is that it is a time to come together and celebrate their culture and history, even when far from home.

Some historians say Hinduism is the oldest practiced religion in history, with some of its texts dating as far back as 2000 BCE. Many of these texts are known under the umbrella term as veda. The term "Hindu" actually originates from a British text from the 19th century chronicling an expedition to India; some practitioners prefer other labels, such as "the Vedic religion." Hinduism boasts nearly 1 billion adherents around the globe and is one of the largest religions worldwide.

Henry Keating

Henry Keating '24 is a Journalism and History student at Mercer. He has worked at The Cluster as SGA correspondent, State and Local News Editor, Managing Editor and now as the Editor-in-Chief. Henry has held internships at the Macon Newsroom, Macon Telegraph, and Greenville Post and Courier. He enjoys backpacking, rom-coms, pottery and photography.

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