Culture / Student Life

Hunter College’s Hindu Student Association Celebrates Holi

Hunter students get henna done by fellow peers. This specific activity was very popular amongst attendees in past events for HSA, and due to this popular demand the club decided to hire two artists.

Hunter College’s Hindu Student Association, known as HSA, held an event on March 15 which celebrated Holi, a Hindu holiday that is also widely regarded as the festival of colors. 

The holiday is meant to signify love, the triumph of good over evil, and marks the beginning of spring. The event was filled with various activities, such as henna, diya & mandala painting, and more. Although the actual holiday was celebrated the previous Wednesday, HSA felt it was important to have the event after to ensure students spent the week celebrating with family. 

“I see it as a triumph over darkness. I don’t think it’s one specific thing we’re celebrating,” said HSA President Kishan Ramrattan. “I think we celebrate all the good things that have happened or do happen.”

Ramrattan found HSA during his freshman year at Hunter in 2019. As someone who grew up in an area that lacked representation, he was seeking a community of people just like him. He started to learn more about his culture and religion through others in the club, eventually becoming president. 

He says HSA previously hosted an event celebrating Holi last year, however, the event was not as popular as this year. Ramrattan says the event has been the biggest so far, with around 100 people signing up in advance to join. With cultural foods and dance performances, the event sparked interest amongst many and was a massive success. 

“My love for dance started from watching Bollywood movies and then from there I just got inspired to start dancing myself,” said performer Kassarenna Katwaroo.

HSA President Kishan Ramrattan, treasurer Shirvan Persad, and performer Kassarenna Katwaroo all pose for a portrait. Katwaroo says she’s often hired to dance at the events held by the club. Her main style of dancing is Bollywood, yet she finds herself experimenting by always trying different forms of dance. An example is her performance at the event, where she mixed Bollywood with Chutney.

Katwaroo is often hired to perform in other events held by HSA, specializing in Bollywood dance. She started dancing professionally when she was 14 years old, performing in many West Indian community events. Katwaroo says she is starting to branch out into other forms of dance, such as Chutney, which is more fast and upbeat compared to Bollywood. 

She also says some of the festivities were not true to the traditional methods of celebrations, such as the lack of colors. Typically, people throw colored powders into the air, covering the streets and other celebrators. It’s a big celebration that is both messy and beautiful, hence the name festival of colors.

“Hopefully in the future, during our next Holi event we can do it somewhere else where we can use powder and such because we also know for a fact that people don’t want to go to class with powder on them,” said Ramrattan.

The event was co-sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Government, known as USG, who helped in providing volunteers and other materials. They assist in advertising as well, posting updates and news relating to the event on social media and their email chain. 

Senior Senator Madeline Zeron is one of the many volunteers who assisted in serving food to students. She was seen consistently attending to her peers while also enjoying the many festivities of the event. Zeron says she feels events like these are essential in bringing awareness to others’ cultures on campus and enjoys learning about Holi. 

Senior Senator Madeline Zeron volunteered at the Holi event and also attended many of the activities held. She enjoyed learning about the holiday and said, “it’s really nice to see people feel comfortable in a space where they can share culture, their tradition.”

“It’s really nice to see people feel comfortable in a space where they can share their culture and their tradition,” said Zeron. “I was asking a lot of people about the symbolism behind Holi because I didn’t know. It was nice to see a diverse amount of students come and enjoy themselves.” 

The Holi event was open to all students, even those who were not Hindu. Events like these that celebrate holidays from all religions are essential in creating school spirit at Hunter. Zeron says it ensures that all students feel represented on campus while also educating others on the cultures of their peers.

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