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  • A thud-thud of the DJ's bass beats reverberated across the university. Students were doused with color that mixed to form a rainbow smorgasbord. Happiness. Loud music. Bright sun. Splashes of powder.

    Today was the university's Holi celebration, advertising the traditional color-throwing. Holi - also known as the Festival of Colors - is the Hindu festival that celebrates "the triumph of good over evil," according to holifestival.org. The story goes that once upon a time, a demon king named Hiranyakashyap was worshipped by everyone in the kingdom, except for his own son, Prahlad, who chose to worship Lord Narayana over his father. Enraged, Hiranyakashyap vowed to kill his son.

    After several other attempts at murder failed, he turned to his sister, Holika. She had a power with fire: she could be encircled by flames, but remain unharmed. Cunningly, Hiranyakashyap asked Holika to coax Prahlad to come into the fire with her. There, she would be safe, but he would burn to death. Perfect, the king thought.

    Holika followed her brother's wishes, getting Prahlad to sit in her lap. Little did she know that her power would only work if she was alone in the fire. Flames began to engulf her. Prahlad sat and repeated Lord Narayana's name, and emerged from the fire untouched and alone. The festival takes its name from Holika and became one that celebrates the power of devotion and worship over ego. It's celebrated in India, and celebrations in the U.S. have recently grown in popularity.

    But you might not have known that at the university. Holi took on a new form there, one immersed in Top 40 songs, dancing college students, free t-shirts and samosas. There were three rules: Let's get tie-dyed. Let's take pictures. Let's have fun.

    The Hindu religion has had difficulty adapting to American culture until recently, through yoga and Bollywood culture and well-known festivals. Holi is one of those events that's fun, so fun that it becomes Americanized, an equivalent to a paint party. Of course, celebration is celebration, and Hinduism is taking the next step in adapting to American society. It's finding its identity.

    It's funny, really, that one of the world's oldest religions still has some discovering to do.
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