The Mabel Brown Room was packed to the brim with both families with younger children and Keene State students. On Saturday, April 6, the third annual Holi Festival was held at Keene State College and was both a multicultural and multigenerational experience. Also in attendance was Keene State President Melinda Treadwell and New Hampshire State Senator Jay Kahn.
The performances mixed new and old in both dance style and music. One group was made up of dads, while another was middle school aged dancers.
Coordinator of Multicultural Student Support and Success and Equity Kya Roumimper called the performance “nothing short of magnificent.” Roumimper was involved in getting the venue for the festival changed to somewhere on campus. “The historical society and the Keene India Association have been putting on Holi Fest for the last few years and they have sold out every year, and they came to me looking for a new place to have the event,” Roumimper said. “As diversity and inclusion, equity is such an integral part of Keene State’s mission and a promise to the community. This is us putting our actions where our promises have been.”
According to Roumimper, the new venue allowed the performance to be longer and attract more audience members. “We had at least 400 people in the room today,” Roumimper said.
Attendee of the event Mag Pidaprd, who has attended the festival for three years and who used to partake in the festival when she lived in India, described the performances as “really great” and said there was much more people in the room than last year.
One of the groups was entirely made of dads who performed 3 songs. “Holi is for a lot of colors, a lot of love,” one of the dancers said. Holi, much like other Hindu holidays, has a mythology around it that explains it: The festival in general terms means the triumph of good over evil and the coming of spring.
After the performances inside, everyone was invited outside for a stick dance where multicolored sticks were passed around and everyone was invited to partake.
Community member Rashni Kulkrni recently left India. “I am missing India and all the festivals,” said Kulkrni.
According to Kulkrni the festival at Keene was reminiscent of the ones she used to have at home in India.
The finale for the afternoon was the spreading of colored powders after the stick dancing. The colors hung in the air for a while above the crowd, covering everyone in the vicinity. The many families in attendance and Keene State students alike entertained themselves by covering themselves and in each other in the colored powder.
Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Dottie Morris was covered in the vibrant powder like everyone else. “The students have done it in the past, but they didn’t do it with the community, and this year it’s a good connection between the community and the college,” Morris said. “Once people come on to campus they see that it’s a place where we’re welcoming, we’re inviting.”
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