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  • Writer's pictureEverest Schipper

Cate School's Holi Festivities (Elliott Paige '26)

On March 24th, a multi-colored cloud could be seen engulfing Kirby Quad with eruptions of vibrant powder bursting through the air and adding to the colorful mist. To the untrained eye, this event could look like a cotton candy machine had gone rogue; however, it was instead Holi, the Festival of Colors. 

Holi is a Hindu religious festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. The festival has its origins in Hindu/Indian mythology and is often associated with the victory of Vishnu, the preserver and protector of the universe, over the demon king Hiranyakashipu. According to legend, Hiranyakashipu enlisted the help of his sister to kill his son Prahlada, a devout worshiper of Vishnu. However, Vishnu protected Prahlada and later killed Hiranyakashipu and his sister. Holi is thought to commemorate this feat. Another common story associated with the origins of Holi is that of Krishna, god of compassion, and Radha, goddess of love. The story goes that Krishna fell in love with Radha but was embarrassed by the fact that his skin was blue while that of Radha was fair. In an attempt to fix this, Krishna is said to have colored Radha in a spirited game. No matter the origins, today the festival is seen as a way to welcome in spring and a time to come together. The main event of Holi is the throwing of colored powder and/or water on one another in one big hullabaloo; however, the festival is also deeply rooted in Indian music and dance. 

Cate’s own Holi celebration was organized by the Brown Student Union with the help of Cate Faculty Advisor Mrs. Avani Shah. Mrs. Shah was able to enlist the help of Aakansha, a friend from Los Angeles, who teaches Indian classical and Bollywood dance. She came to teach Cate students the dances and songs of the festival. Lucian Tann ‘26, a Brown Student Union head, said “it required a lot of planning, but it was all worth it for such an exciting night.”

Setup was no easy task. Hundreds of small cups spanning over six tables were meticulously filled with a colored cornstarch powder. Additionally, white shirts were passed out to all attendees to color later. The festival opened with upbeat and energetic dances led by Aakansha. The music was pumping and everyone was dancing along. Makalya Hui ‘27 described her experience saying, “I’ve never been exposed to this side of dance and it was just so interesting to be able to see and practice with all my friends. This style of dance was just so enjoyable because the music was upbeat, super fast, and danceable." 

After about thirty minutes of dance, the crowd was told that it was time to start the main spectacle. Everyone grabbed two cups of powder and was instructed to kneel on the ground. Then, after an anticipated countdown, Aakansha shouted, “होली है” (Pronounced: holee hey; English: It is Holi), and the air exploded with colorful mist. The music and dancing started anew in a great combination of movement, color, and song.


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