Anyone driving past the front fields of UNC Charlotte at 5 p.m. March 18, then again at 5:30 p.m., will notice a big change.
By 5:30, the grass will have become as colorful as a rainbow.
For the third year, UNCC will host Holi Moli, a take on Holi, a centuries-old festival of colors celebrated widely throughout India to welcome the arrival of spring.
In India, Holi occurs the day after the full moon in early March. People take to the streets to joyfully dust each other with vibrant-colored powders and douse one another in colored water.
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Shops close for the daylong festival, which includes music and food throughout the celebration.
Holi Moli – sponsored by the Campus Activities Board with assistance from Triveni, the university’s Indian Students Association – will contain its celebration to the front fields on the UNCC campus. It will include a mix of traditional Holi music and Top 40 tunes.
Organizers say attendees should bring a towel and a light-colored T-shirt to best show off the colors in which they’ll soon be covered. They also should leave electronics or anything else they wouldn’t want to get wet at home.
Last year’s event began with a brief lesson about Holi, then quickly erupted into powdery pink, yellow, green, purple and blue plumes, in the air and on each other. Giggles and chasing were regular occurrences.
“We start off by throwing the colors in the air, and then we spray water and cover the faces of each person,” said Ved Echarya, 26, a former Triveni president who helps organize the campus event. “We have music and dance and carry on.”
Echarya said the powdered packets of color are authentic to what’s used in India; they come from a nearby Indian store across from the university.
Holi began as a celebration among Hindu cultures but has spread over the years to non-Hindu groups and into other regions, including Europe and North America.
Its messages – happiness, forgiveness and new growth – cross religious, cultural and geographical boundaries.
For many Indian students on campus, Holi Moli is a welcome reminder of their homeland.
When Echarya came to the U.S. from India nearly three years ago, he said, he didn’t know much about American culture. Members of Triveni picked him up from the airport, showed him how to shop at Walmart and where to open a bank account.
“Its like a dream come true when you find out you can come to the U.S. for an education or a job,” said Echarya, who received a master’s degree in electrical engineering in December and lives in University Terrace; however, it’s also a little scary, he said.
Triveni was founded in 2005 and now has about 300 members.
“Its purpose is to help all of the Indian students coming in,” Echarya said. “As they leave their parents and home country and come to a new place, we want to create a home here for them.”
Events like Holi Moli can help treat the homesickness.
“It’s something that everyone looks forward to,” Echarya said. “Everyone enjoys it.”