Colorful clouds of chalk and the sound of pounding music filled the air at the Teton Vu Drive-in on May 4. Students and members of the community danced, played traditional Indian games, enjoyed Indian cuisine and entered a raffle to celebrate Holi.
Holi is an Indian festival that takes place on the first day of spring and celebrates new beginnings.
“It symbolizes that you give away all evil things and then start something new,” said Sridevi Kalanidhi, a junior majoring in interdisciplinary studies. “A fresh life, a fresh season, so you are not carrying that thing holding you back from progressing.”
Kalanidhi said she enjoyed celebrating Holi back home in India, and when she came to the United States, she missed it. The idea for a larger color festival began last year when she collected colors and threw them at her friends to celebrate. Seeing how much fun her friends had helped her realize this could become something bigger.
The idea grew until it became a concept for a large scale event; one that could even raise money. For Kalanidhi, the purpose of life is helping others, so raising money meant helping those in need.
“Let me dedicate my life for a good cause, helping people,” Kalanidhi said.
This passion for service sparked 13 years ago while in India when Kalanidhi saw a blind couple on the street holding a small, weak baby. When she began talking with the family, she learned that they struggled to get food, and, therefore, the mother was not able to breastfeed the newborn.
Kalanidhi immediately bought food for the family and has been helping them ever since, from providing food to covering medical expenses, and even paying for the oldest child’s education.
However, moving to the United States and becoming a student has brought new challenges. Although she wants to help, Kalanidhi has been struggling to pay for her own expenses, let alone that of another family.
“That was always hurting me and bothering me –– that I’m not doing anything,” Kalanidhi said.
Due to issues in organization and advertising, attendance did not nearly reach the 3,000 to 4,000 people that she had hoped for. Still, those who did attend left with smiles shining through their vibrantly colored, chalk-covered faces.
“I want this to grow big and bigger,” Kalanidhi said. “As it grows bigger, we will be able to help a lot of people throughout the world.”