The Experience of Holi Festival 2017 in ASU

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Melita Oktanawati in Holi Festival 2017

On Saturday, March 18, 2017 I experienced my first ever Holi celebration in Arizona State University (ASU). Holi festival 2017 in Arizona was hosted by Indian Students’ Association – ASU. Holi the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love” is a Hindu spring festival celebrated in India and Nepal Wikipedia. My first ever Indian friend Salim Sheikh who was also studying with me in Scottsdale Community College invited us to join him for Holi Celebration. I was very excited to celebrate too. I participated in many Non-Muslim events throughout my CCI year 2016-17 such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. That’s the beauty of exchange programs which bring closer the different people around the world.

Although Holi is a Hindu festival but I celebrated it to set an example of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. The group of five people Harry, Lita, Tayyaba, Salim and I showed our interest to join the event. Salim played the lead role to take us from our apartments to the place where Holi was celebrated. We ordered Uber to get there. Our friends from Mesa Community College were also there. Holi started at its time. There was a booth where people got in line to get the colors. Once they got the colors, they started chasing each other to cover random people from head to toe in colors. The loud music let everyone to dance while playing Holi. I saw people from India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, United States and Pakistan. However, majority of them were Indians. The event ended at 2’o clock with a good Indian lunch.

Qasim Khilji with his SRK Signature Style

Qasim Khilji with his SRK Signature Style

Harry Rahawarin and Qasim Khilji

Pace Harry Rahawarin coloring my face

Salim Shekh and Qasim Khilji

Salim Shekh and I

Qaim Ali Abbas - Photo Credit Ariana Zahedi 3

Qaim Ali Abbas - Photo Credit Ariana Zahedi

Shafat Ullah - Photo Credit Ariana Zahedi 3

Shafat Ullah - Photo Credit Ariana Zahedi

Shafat Ullah - Photo Credit Ariana Zahedi 3

Shafat Ullah - Photo Credit Ariana Zahedi

It’s Fun and Completely Free For All

Yes I am saying the truth that event was free for all and it was really fun. It’s the time when you forget worries and play with colors. People play Holi without regard to gender, age and race. People usually don’t know each other. They don’t know the each other’s class. They just want to celebrate Holi and have fun. I recommend everyone should celebrate at least once in a life. The date for festival varies every year. It occurs at the end of spring. It depends on the Hindu calendar. It was very interesting experience for me. I have so much respect for Hindus and Indian friends now.

Holi – What it looks like?

  • You get colors from head to toe
  • You get to learn and experience a different culture
  • You make new friends

Bhang!!! which was not there

If you are celebrating Holi in India, then you will definitely have a chance to drink Bhang. It is commonly known from its use and popularity during the Holi festival in India. It is a paste made up of cannabis leaves and mixed into drinks and sweets. It is intoxicant made from marijuana leaves and flowers. It was not served in the event which was very good. Imagine if people are intoxicated, the music is loud and people are dancing on the floor. What will happen next? I leave the answer to you.

Unfortunately, We (Pakistanis) can’t openly celebrate Holi in Pakistan

Shafat Ullah - Photo Credit Ariana Zahedi 3
Shafat Ullah – Photo Credit Ariana Zahedi

As the Hindu community is very limited in Peshawar, which is why I never celebrated Holi in my life in Pakistan. However, where the Hindu community is in majority they celebrate Holi Festival every year with spirit. I am a Muslim. I am proud of my religion Islam. Islam doesn’t prevent anyone to greet a Non-Muslim on its religious occasion. It teaches love, tolerance and freedom of religion.

Meet also Mr. Shafat Ullah from Pakistan. Like me He also celebrated Holi Festival for the first time. He came with his friends from Mesa Community College. He also enjoyed the event and want his friends to attend the event next time.

Thanks to ISA

Although, it was not as good as it is in India but honestly we had loads of fun. I would like to thank and congratulate Indian Students’ Association – ASU for this big success. I also thank Coalition of International Students (CIS), Unified Society of South Asians (USSA) and Resident Hall Association (RHA) for cohosting the event. I hope this bond become stronger than ever and they bring more events like this in future.

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Qasim is an accounting and auditing professional in Pakistan, where he graduated from University of Peshawar with a degree in Commerce, majoring in Accounting. Qasim came to Arizona at the invitation of the U.S. Department of State in their Community College Initiative Program. This program is funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by Northern Virginia Community College as a member of the Community College Consortium. Qasim has more than four years experience in the social sector, specifically, working in donor-funded projects with various international organizations and UN agencies like the World Food Program, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and National Education Foundation of Pakistan, among others. He independently began operations of a small business incubator. Qasim's dream is to become a social entrepreneur and serve his country internationally and domestically.

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