By Paula Jakima
The University of Essex prides itself in how multicultural it is. Thanks to how culturally varied we are, we get to explore and help celebrate different religions.
On the 7 March, people gathered by the Lakes in the sun with the intention to get very messy. Everyone was waiting to celebrate the Hindu spring festival, Holi.
Holi is known as the festival of colour and is mostly celebrated in India and Nepal. The festival is a way to celebrate the beginning of spring, and the end of winter. It is a time filled with positivity and happiness.
I managed to get a bit more insight into the event from Alexis, an RA who was very involved in the organisation.
The event started to be planned around the beginning of the year and it was organised by the Societies Guild, Students’ Union then joined, followed by the Indian society in order to make the celebration as memorable and colourful as possible. Before the event could be authorised, risk assessments had to be filled in, in order to ensure that everyone will be safe and happy, especially considering that the event was quite close to the lakes and someone could accidentally fall. Warnings about the power used during the event were also displayed on the Students’ Union page alongside all the other details that people may want to know about the event and how it will be run.
The event was decided to be set at the beautiful University of Essex lakes which was an incredible idea as the weather on the day was perfect, making the experience even more memorable, with around 200 people turning up on the day, it was definitely a great sight to witness!
There were several elements that were added onto the event to jazz it up a bit. The Societies Guild provided white t-shirts on site with several different colours of spray paint and stencils, one that said ‘HOLI’ and the other one with the house SU sign. There was also several lovely volunteers present that did face paint for the people taking part, and the best part was, it was free!
All the people participating were asked to gather by the BBQ area between the two lakes from 11:30am where they got their t-shirts and face-paint. At around 12pm everyone started walking towards the designated area for the event behind the lakes (they had put fences up to mark the space that they could use which only had two entrances). There were volunteers in 4 corners ready to give out the coloured powder to everybody. The excitement was in the air, everyone was chatting away, smiling and laughing. When everyone finally gathered up in the designated are, it was time. The coloured powder was handed out to everyone and the party was ready to begin.
The throwing of coloured powder lasted around 40 minutes and was a crazy rainbow of colours and laughter as everyone pelted the coloured powder at each other with no remorse! People had powder everywhere possible; in their ears, hair, mouth. It was insane. There were photographers present at the scene, ready to snap away the havoc. They took a before and after group photo which highlighted just how wild everyone got.
After the powder had finished and the last remains of it settled on the ground, all the people taking part headed back over where the Indian society were offering refreshments and some traditional Indian food to keep the Holi spirits alive. After the event had ended, the incredible volunteers cleaned up the aftermath of the madness.
After speaking with several people that attended the event, it seemed to have been a huge success. One of the people I spoke to recalled pleasantly: “events like this help unite all the different cultures throughout the university, and I think it’s amazing.” I don’t think I could agree more with that! Another person said: “Although I had to take like 3 showers to get the powder out of my hair, it was an experience I will never forget.”
I would like to congratulate all the great people that took part in making this event as amazing as it was. Events like this really help to unite people, increase understanding of different cultures and religions, and also just give heaps of joy and excitement to university life, which we can all agree can be quite dull and overwhelming some times.