Despite the growing toxic turmoil surrounding cultures that are not considered the “norm”, there is still a sizeable population on the ground level of society that strives towards multiculturalism. For a lot of young people today, this distinct population can easily be assessed through their college campus and town.
On Sunday, March 26th, I attended an event that encouraged multiculturalism. The spring season brings the celebration of Holi, a Hindu celebration that is meant to ring in the spring season and bring out equality. During this celebration, I met with a student by the name of Simmi Chadha to speak about Holi and her personal connections to it.
As stated before, Holi is meant to celebrate the season of spring as well as equality. Though she is not Hindu herself, Chadha is actually Sikh she still considers it a part of her background and culture. “Holi is the celebration of the arrival of Spring and the celebration of equality as well as the triumph of good over evil.” Says Chadha. “The story I have heard states that there was an evil demon who attempted to kill a god's son by burning him alive. The son's sister, whose name is Holika, had a special cloth that protected her from fire. She used this on her brother and was burned to death, while her brother was left unharmed.” This is further emphasized by the rang, or the powdered colors that are thrown about. She continues to clarify the rang is meant to completely cover the person head to toe so that not even the skin color, and furthermore the caste, could be recognized.
Chadha does admit that she sees an increase in the American public’s recognition for other cultures. It affects her in the way that she is beginning to feel like she can be part of a larger community. As a first generation born American, it can be hard to balance both your culture and the American. She finds comfort in representations such as Mindy Kaling who she views as” a positive representation because it does not show a stereotypical Indian role, but instead as a powerful independent woman who happens to be Indian. The show is not about her being Indian and I think that is what makes it real.” It shows her she can still be both without feeling like she must constantly show she is both. Seeing the emergence of more Indian restaurants comforts her because she knows that there are strides being made to better understand her culture.
Though Chadha does not live out her culture in daily actions, she still makes sure to live it out yearly so as not to lose touch with her roots. Her family celebrates Holi and Diwali by going to local celebrations and having a bon fire the night before complete with music and foods from her family’s father land. It is because of this that she has been so excited to see others embrace her culture.
A look out of the scene hosted by the Hindu Student Association at the University of Texas on March 26th, 2017.
The rang, colored powder meant to conceal ones skin color and cast. Attendees are meant to throw it at one another, Sunday March 26th, 2017.
No Holi is complete until rang is thrown in the air, Sunday March 26th, 2017.
Longhorn, Ramya Gomatam takes a break from being thrown with rang on Sunday March 26th, 2017.
Simmi Chadha waits in line to get her rang so she can participate in the festivities on Sunday March 26th, 2017. It is typical to wear white so the colors may show better.
Chadha poses after participating on Sunday March 26th, 2017. She has had a successful Holi where her white is completely covered.
Dholi Anuradha drums Hindu beats during Holi on Sunday March 26th, 2017.