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UT to celebrate diversity at Holi Toledo event April 27

The University of Toledo invites the community to attend a colorful celebration of different cultures and religions.

Holi Toledo, an all-campus celebration of the Indian holiday Holi, will take place from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, April 27 on the grounds outside Memorial Field House on Main Campus.

It is recommended that attendees wear clothes that can be stained from throwing colored powder. While the color is water-soluble, it is not guaranteed to wash out.

Along with throwing color, the event will feature music, dancing and a T-shirt giveaway sponsored by the Center for International Studies and Programs.

“Holi is a popular springtime festival that is celebrated with great fanfare in India,” said Dr. Yonatan Miller, director of the Center for Religious Understanding. “It is a colorful celebration — both cultural and religious — of the change of seasons and the triumph of good over evil. And, significantly, it is also a time when, at least for one day, all people are considered equals; the usual social hierarchy is suspended.”

During a typical Holi celebration, people smear each other with colors and colored water is thrown, drenching anyone and everyone. The festivals also include song, dance, food and drinks.

“To have Holi celebrated on campus is such a beautiful sight to see,” said Hima Katrapati, a UT senior studying biology and finance, who is a native of Hyderabad, India. “There are so many people from different cultures who come out to celebrate ours and share memories with each other. Even though many people don’t know the meaning behind it, many people ask questions and try to gain the true meaning of Holi.”

Holi Toledo was the brainchild of Dr. Jeanine Diller, former director of the Center for Religious Understanding. The event, which draws on the festivity, color and seasonal meaning of the holiday, has the blessing of the Hindu Temple of Toledo.

“Holi Toledo also serves a more immediate purpose here in the UT community, which is to highlight our diversity, promote unity, and foster improved understanding of the religions represented on campus,” Miller said.

Miller said the peer learning experience unique to this event cultivates religious understanding.

“In order to obtain packs of color to throw periodically during the event, participants must first approach tables staffed by the myriad of UT’s religious and cultural student organizations and ask a question, start a conversation, or have a meaningful interaction,” Miller said. “My students know that as a teacher, I am always looking for ways to get them talking, and the incentive of the color packs is a fun way for us to jump-start conversations and create the foundations for longer term dialogue.

“My hope is that the interactions that students have with their peers serve to improve their religious literacy, and, as a consequence, their understanding of the religious ‘other.’ This is one of the outcomes that I, as a professor of religion, seek in the classroom, in the context of formal education. To do this in a fun, informal and social environment is a nice complement to the more formal manner in which religion is usually approached in a university context.”

is UT's Media Relations Specialist. Contact her at 419.530.2077 or
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