The South Asian Association of Maine (SAAM) has brought the Festival of Colors from India to Orono, Maine.
The student group at the University of Maine gathered the funds from Student Government to recreate the colorful event that is commonly celebrated in India during the Holi Festival. Although the event is normally held at the end of March, the cold Maine winter forced the SAAM have to hold the event in the fall.
The Festival of Colors (Colorfest), otherwise known as Holi, marks the beginning of spring and is celebrated by Hindus around the world. Attendees throw colored powder and scented water in the air and at other attendees. The ancient religious festival has become very popular among non-Hindus across the world because of its colorfulness and excitement.
UMaine graduate students Prateek Kunwar and Ayesha Maliwal are in charge of the group and the event. The students are both from India and wanted to bring the excitement of the colorful festival to the school.
“This is the first time doing a colorfest here,” Kunwar said. “It is usually done in the snow season in India, but it cannot be done here during that time. It works with the fall colors right now.”
The free event had dancing, tug-of-war, water balloons, t-shirt making and a food stand. Flavors of India, a new food delivery service in Brewer, catered the event with an assortment of teas and spicy foods available for purchase.
The funding from Student Government made Colorfest possible.
“We were planning this as a smaller event with just our friends, but then we saw that so many people were interested in it so we made it a larger event,” Maliwal said. “We have nearly 600 pounds of color. We would appreciate donations because we want to keep having large-scale events.”
Alice Wise, a Colorfest volunteer and graduate student, is in her first semester at UMaine and is a new member of SAAM.
“It’s a lot of fun, they do a lot of really good things, especially for international students,” Wise said.
The group had planned on about 200 Colorfest attendees.
“People have come and gone throughout the day,” Wise said. “So it has been a pretty successful day.”
The next event for the group will be on Nov. 14. It will be a potluck in which members will bring a dish from where they are from. Anyone is welcome to join the group. Prateek Konwar or Ayesha Maliwal can be reached on FirstClass for those who are interested.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly spelled Prateek Kunwar’s name as Prateek Konwar. This version has been updated.