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Opinion & Editorial

Holi 2021: Reflecting on the Pandemic’s Effects on Cultural Celebrations

Holi, a Hindu celebration marking the end of winter and the triumph of good over evil, is celebrated by close to a billion people every year. The holiday is commerated with colored powder that celebrators cover on the faces and clothes of friends, family, and strangers. This year the Holi celebration falls from March 28 to March 29.

As a young Indian-American, Holi is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate. In 2017, I participated in Holi festivities for the first time in New Delhi, India, one of the largest cities in the world. I remember my cousins and pouring a large bucket of colored water over my head, leaving my hair tinted pink for weeks. 

Holi celebrations, however, are not limited to India and are observed worldwide: celebrations stretch from Guyana in South America to right here in Columbus. In years past, CAPSA, Columbus Academy’s South Asian parent group, has organized color-throwing events on our campus, and Hindu temples in the city organize large events accompanied by religious celebrations. 

I have attended both the Columbus Academy and Hindu temple Holi celebrations in previous years, and both events were a wonderful way to connect with my culture from home. 

Last year’s celebration at the temple particularly stood out. On Monday, March 9, 2020 I entered the temple with bags of color, ready to celebrate with my friends. After praying in the crowded room of people, I was informed that we would not be allowed to play with colors as a result of the new virus that had just entered the state. To me, the cancellation of my beloved Holi festival marked the beginning of the pandemic: it was the harbringer of the many changes to our daily lives that would begin just a few days later. 

In India, the situation was the same: although the holiday was celebrated in some way by the majority of the nation, the event was shrouded by apprehension and confusion as the Coronavirus began to spread. 

Now that it has been a year since the cancellation of 2020’s festivities, I have had the opportunity to reflect. Although I would love to gather with friends and family today, I know that it is of utmost importance to remain diligent.

Even considering rising cases in India, I trust that government and citizens will remain responsible in these difficult times. As vaccines become increasingly widespread, I am confident that by 2022, Holi will be back to the way it once was: a time for upwards of one billion people to come together, finally celebrating the triumph of good over evil. 

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