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'Everyone having fun': Campus community comes together for Holi Moli

04062024_Bulris_HoliDance

Dancers perform at Holi Moli on Hooker Fields on Saturday, April 6, 2024.

On Saturday, Hooker Fields became the site of a vibrant explosion of color as students and the local community gathered to celebrate at UNC’s annual Holi Moli event.

According to Holi Moli co-director Divya Korategere, Holi — which is both a religious and cultural event — is a Hindu tradition that celebrates the commencement of spring and the welcoming of the harvest season. Originating from Hindu mythology, it is also a celebration of good over evil and symbolizes bringing color and light into darkness, she said.

UNC student group Hindu Yuva first hosted the festival as an event for its members in 2008. However, since then it evolved into its own organization and welcomes people from across UNC, other universities and community members. Holi Moli has even been an item on UNC student bucket lists for years.

This is the third consecutive year the event has been held since its in-person return in 2022.

Korategere and co-director Mansi Gupta began planning for Holi Moli in August, leading four executive committees: cultural, finance, logistics and publicity and design.

In the week leading up to Holi Moli, the organization held events in order to bring awareness to South Asian culture and to promote Holi Moli. These activities included a Bollywood Zumba class, CholaNad in the Top of Lenoir and a roundtable discussion with local South Asian representatives.

Gupta, who is graduating in May, has been involved with Holi Moli since her first year at UNC. She said the event and its organization has given her the opportunity to make new friends and celebrate what Holi means to her.

“I just love to see how it has grown to be such a big part of the community and how I played a role in that,” she said

Gupta said the team sold around 1,700 tickets for this year's event, including dancers, photographers and other staff. She added that it was great to see a continued growth in attendance over the years. 

Proceeds from tickets sold this year will be split between the Orange County Rape Crisis Center and the Desai Foundation. Philanthropy has always been a part of Holi Moli, Korategere said, and this year it was important to the organization to choose a charity that serves the local community as well as one that supports South Asian communities both in India and the U.S.

The event began at 2 p.m., when attendees were given food, heard from a guest speaker and watched multiple dance performances from student organizations including UNC Chalkaa, Tar Heel Raas and Ek Taal. 

UNC Chalkaa has rehearsed their set for the past year, and dancer Sreekar Kompella said that it was special to perform a part of it for the UNC community and his friends.

“It's always fun — just people that you've known throughout your life all showing up at Holi, even if it's for a brief second of throwing color and being like ‘Happy Holi,'" he said. "It's always a good thing to see everyone having fun."

Attendees were also treated to crowd-favorite Bollywood tunes from Neil Auroni, a UNC junior who was the DJ for the afternoon.

Then, at 4 p.m., a rainbow plume of colored powder floated into the sky and the music was drowned out by cheers from the crowd as attendees ambushed friends and strangers alike with color.

“I feel like [my favorite part was] putting colors on random people and them just being okay with it — everyone was just really friendly to each other because it was just a fun, colorful event,” UNC first-year Sarah Villaruel said.

This was a common expression among attendees after an hour of dancing and throwing colors.

UNC sophomore Emily Sang said Holi Moli makes the student body feel safer and more connected. 

“I think events like this remind us of how big of a community we are and how much love we have for each other,” she said.

@CalebHerrera_ | @nithyaind

university@dailytarheel.com | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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