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Holi 2015 – The Festival of Colors at KI

by Erik Müllers

 

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]oli is an ancient Hindu religious festival also known as the festival of colors or the spring festival. It is a thanksgiving celebration for a good harvest and it celebrates the victory of the good over evil spirit Holika. Like the Valborg celebration in Sweden, it marks the end of the winter and the approaching of warmer, sunnier times.

The essence of Holi is colors. People chase each other with bright color powder in a playful fight where everybody can take part. Covered in colors everyone looks the same, everybody is equal and strangers readily become friends.

Last spring, when the sun slowly started to warm up Stockholm, Shahul Hameed, an Indian PhD student at the department of Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB), had the idea to celebrate the arrival of the summer season the way that Indians do – by bringing the joy and happiness of Holi to KI campus.

Covered in colors everyone looks the same, everybody is equal and strangers readily become friends.

 

Shahul teamed up with Jonathan Mudry and Erik Müllers and, together with many friends and generous support from the Department of Molecular Medicine and Surgery (MMK), the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology (CMB) and the International Committee of Medicinska Föreningen, they started organizing the first ever Holi festival at KI.

Shahul had celebrated Holi with friends and colleagues already in the years before, but an event for everybody in KI was a different story. “Organizing the colors was trickier than I first thought. I couldn’t find them in Sweden and we also couldn’t order colors from India, because these are not certified by the European Union.” explained Shahul. “In the end it worked out to get six boxes of colors shipped from Germany – purple, yellow, pink, green, blue and orange.” These so-called Gulal colors are made from cornstarch and herbal ingredients, making them non-toxic, biodegradable and easy to wash out.

Photo by Shahul Liyakath Ali
Photo by Shahul Liyakath Ali

The colors arrived in Stockholm on time and thanks to many helping hands lots of BBQ food, cold drinks, music and games were prepared. Even the Stockholm weather played along. With sun, blue sky and summer-like temperatures more than two hundred people gathered, curious on what was about to come. These were way more people than expected and so there were some queues at the grill waiting to taste Shahul’s homemade spicy chicken. After the food the color fun was set to begin. Participants started chasing and coloring each other with the bright color powder, having water fights and throwing color-filled water balloons. Within minutes the lawn in front of Jöns Jacobs blurred into a colorful mess of laughing, playing, dancing and singing.

With sun, blue sky and summer-like temperatures more than two hundred people gathered…

 

Following the true spirit of Holi festival in India, the festival of colors at KI brought people from all over the world together enjoying a day of colors and happiness. Motivated by lots of positive feedback after last year’s event, the three organizers are back to bring the KI community an even more colorful day this year. In India Holi is celebrated on the 6th of March, but as Stockholm is usually covered in snow that time this year’s festival of colors will take place in May. More information will be coming up soon. And if you like to join the team to help organize ‘Holi 2015 – The Festival of Colors at KI’ you are more than welcome to contact Shahul, Jon or Erik.

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