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GCO holds annual Holi Festival

Maryville College students throw powdered chalk into the air in part of the 2017 Holi Festival. Photo by Beau Branton.

Maryville College students throw powdered chalk into the air in part of the 2017 Holi Festival. Photo by Beau Branton.

The Global Citizenship Organization (GCO) celebrated The Festival of Colors, also known as Holi, on March 16. The event took place on the Center for Campus Ministry (CCM) lawn, and everyone was welcomed to participate.

It has been five years since GCO started celebrating Holi. The Festival is one of the favorite traditions of the Maryville College community and it is celebrated annually at the beginning of spring.

Each year, GCO follows a specific order of celebration; first, all participants are hosed down with water, then they throw balloons, finally, they throw colored powders at each other. This year’s water fight was cancelled due to the weather.

“Holi is a great celebration that brings the community together,” said GCO president Byjan Kajaei. “It also gives a great opportunity to meet other people and to have fun with friends.”

Former GCO officer and senior student, Brandi Jeanis, too, said she enjoys celebrating the festival with friends.

“My favorite thing about Holi is definitely going out with my friends and taking a bunch of pictures of how funny we look afterwards,” Jeanis, said. “What I like most about Holi is that it is a celebration that welcomes spring. Students will not only get a chance to spend time outside on a sunny day, but also they get to play with powders.”

There were more that 600 cups of powder used in the celebration. Participants wore white t-shirts so the powder would be visible. It was strongly suggested that participants take a shower right after the event.

GCO started preparing for the event weeks ahead. Kajaei claimed that the powders are the main elements of the event; thus, they ordered powder samples online in order to check the safety of the product on people’s skin. Lively colors such as blue, red, pink, yellow, green and orange excited people throughout the celebration.

“We put a lot of work into flyers and online advertisement of the event in order to have more participants,” Kajaei added.

Jeanis also added that she would like to see the event expanded bit in the future.

“The organization and the content of the festival is already good, but it would be awesome to have a water slide like in my freshman year,” Jeanis said. “I loved Indian music that made the festival even more fun this time.”

Admission to the event was $2.00, and all proceeds were donated to the Bridge Refugee Services in Knoxville, which is a non-profit organization that provides protection and assistance to refugees.

Students participating in GCO’s Holi Festival decorate their shirts and faces with powdered chalk. Photo by Beau Branton.

Students participating in GCO’s Holi Festival decorate their shirts and faces with powdered chalk. Photo by Beau Branton.

Last year, the event raised funds for the Read Thread Movement, which fights against human trafficking and slavery.

It should be noted that there were also three professional photographers at the festival to take pictures of participants.

“I remember how Nick Peterson and I took a picture during my freshman year,” Jeanis said. “We looked so funny because we had powders all over our clothes and faces. We took the same picture during our sophomore year. Last year, when I was in Japan, I posted those pictures online, and he said that we have to take a final picture at this year’s Holi.”

She also suggested participants be careful with contact lenses and especially avoid getting the powder into their eyes.

“I remember how powder once got into my contacts and it was very painful,” Jeanis said.

Safety is a top priority, but this kind of rare situation does occur.

GCO is also planning to hold one more Holi when weather is a bit warmer. The date of the second Festival of Colors will be announced soon.

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