Photographer:Fotograaf: Loraine Bodewes Fotografie
ISA Maastricht welcomes another spring
“Happy Holi!” a girl exclaims while pelting another in the face with brightly coloured powder. The Indian student’s association ISA Maastricht welcomed the arrival of spring with a celebration of the traditional Hindu Holi festival this weekend. After enjoying an ample Indian lunch, association members and other attendees proceeded to cover one another in pigment powders in front of the University Library.
At the student’s ecclesia Tafelstraat 13, the shoes have to come off before visitors sit down cross-legged at the row of banana leaves on which lunch will be served. Willem Loof, a tall Dutchman whose girlfriend is helping to organise the event, complains: “I’m no good at sitting like this.”
As one of the ISA members explains, the Holi festival is based on the legend of a king who had been blessed with near invincibility, but grew arrogant and demanded that people worship him. His son defied him, however, and the god Vishnu protected the son, eventually vanquishing the king.
An abundance of wonderful Indian food is provided by the ISA board members, who have been preparing in the kitchen since the crack of dawn. After discovering that eating rice with one’s hands requires a certain skill that at least one person present does not possess – rice is falling everywhere – the event is moved outside into the lovely weather, and the passing around of brightly coloured bags quickly turns to pandemonium, with people enthusiastically chasing each other to cover them in coloured dust. Hilarity ensues, and even some students just on their way to the library decide to join in. The staff of nearby café Lure are decidedly less amused by the approaching mist of purplish hues that is drifting towards their customers, and the group is badgered into moving their celebration down the street.
“This is how we welcome the new season, and we celebrate that good always wins over bad”, says Narendra Kumar, chair of ISA. “In India, people leave the colours on for weeks, also because they don’t really wash off. There are even regions where they celebrate for the whole month.” Thankfully, the pigments used today would come off in the shower.