Things are about to get messy at The University of Toledo — but in the best way possible.
From 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 9, students will have the chance to throw color on one another while learning about the different cultures and religions on campus. It’s a part of Holi Toledo, an all-campus celebration of the Indian holiday Holi, which began as a Hindu celebration of the victory of a good man, Prahlad, over the demon Holika, a battle symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.
The event will take place in the field next to the Memorial Field House, with booths surrounding a color zone. At each booth, students will learn from a different cultural or religious student organization and receive powdered color, which will be used throughout the day to cover attendees.
“It’s a way of welcoming spring; the colors are symbolic of all the colors nature throws at us in spring,” said Dr. Jeanine Diller, director of the UT Center for Religious Understanding. “The colors also are symbolic of the different cultural and religious orientations on campus and the joy there is in living them out. Holi reminds us of our shared humanity behind social differences because everybody ends up looking the same at the end of the day, covered with all the colors.”
Individuals working the booths will wear T-shirts that say “Ask me about a meaningful… belief, quote, experience.” Students who come to the booth pick one of these choices and hear a one-sentence response so that they can learn about that culture or religion even in the frenzy of the color throwing.
“We thought it would be great to have both religious and cultural student organizations to celebrate the diversity that the holiday of Holi represents,” Diller said.
Students will be entered in a drawing for $100 if they visit enough booths and learn about the different organizations. There also will be prizes for the individual with the most colors at the end of the event, and free white Holi Toledo T-shirts will be given to the first 200 people to arrive.
Color throwing will begin at 3:15 p.m.; every 15 minutes attendees will simultaneously toss their colors on one another. It is recommended that attendees wear clothes that can be stained; while the color is water soluble, it is not guaranteed to wash out.
Along with powdered color, the event will feature Indian music, some of which is specific to the holiday.
“This past summer, my board and I discussed the idea of having an interfaith celebration at the end of the year,” Diller said. “My interns told me they wanted something with wider appeal than a lecture. A couple of us had just done the color run, which is a version of Holi, and this idea was born.”
This event is sponsored by the UT Indian Students Cultural Association, the UT Center for Religious Understanding, the UT Center for International Studies and Programs, the UT Office of Student Involvement, the UT Office of Equity and Diversity, the Toledo Community Foundation, and the President’s Lecture Series on Diversity.