Ethnic Studies Organization promotes connection through color

On Saturday April 23, the Ethnic Studies Student Organization (ESSO) hosted the “Festival of Colors” to celebrate the diversity of students at Minnesota State Mankato. The event took place on the Performing Arts Lawn from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and featured free henna, a DJ and colored powder. 

Sanjaya Balami is the president of ESSO. “There’s a lot of international students and a lot of diversity on campus. We came up with the idea of a Holi. A Holi is an event where we say goodbye to winter and hello to spring. This is mainly celebrated in Southeast Asia,” Balami said.  

The celebration typically takes place earlier in the year, but for those living in Minnesota, the winter season lasts far longer. To celebrate Holi, participants cover themselves and others with colored powder. The celebration is typically associated with Hindu religions.

ESSO used the event not only to celebrate the shifting of seasons but to highlight the diversity at MSU as well, with the colorful nature of the event representing connection that crosses cultural boundaries. 

“It’s for the diversity, and to support friendship of any colors. There is no racism, no difference between international students and students from here. We are making a bridge, with no boundaries,” Balami added. 

Samriddhi Khatiwoda is the event coordinator for the ESSO.

“We are promoting our culture and tradition. There’s a lot of homesickness in the second semester for international students; I have it too. If I play with people who are just like me, and if we enjoy it, we should promote it here or at other universities,” said Khatiwoda.

Khatiwoda is also a first-year nursing student and admitted that the added stress of her role at ESSO can be challenging at times, but rewarding.

“Everyone is happy here, that’s all that matters to me. Everyone is telling me ‘thank god they are organizing this event and promoting our culture here in America’. If Americans are accepting our culture and tradition, I am more than happy. Nepal is very small, and we are celebrating here in this huge country,” said Khatiwoda. 

The event attracted about 100 students over the three hours, all of whom left with a rainbow of color on their clothes, skin and hair. While the wind added an extra challenge to hosting the event, it spread the color far more. 

Reke Evuleche, a graduate student at MSU, was covered in hues of blue and green by the time she left the event. “I came to have fun and de-stress. I’ve never done this kind of thing before. It’s an interesting opportunity to experience different cultures and different things in America. This is my very first Holi,” said Evuleche.

Header Photo: Held at the Performing Arts Lawn, the Ethnic Studies Student Organization celebrated Holi with colors and fun games as part of “Festival of Colors”. (Ajay Kasaudhan/The Reporter)

Write to Alexandra Tostrud at Alexandra.Tostrud@mnsu.edu

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