If you walk onto campus, any given day, you can see the entire world before you make it to your 8 o’ clock class. As you make your way through India and China, you will notice a small country nestled between the two, Nepal. Personally, it has become my favorite and I have taken every opportunity to learn about this country that as of 2010, is the world’s most recent nation to become a Republic. Last week, friends of mine from Nepal, celebrated Holi, an ancient Hindu festival, supposedly named after the mythical demoness Holik. One of the most significant holidays of Nepal, it is considered the festival of colors.
Holi is a symbolic tribute to a legend from Hindu Mythology. According to the Hindu belief, there was a king who resented his young son, Prahalda for worshipping Lord Vishnu, a god his father despised. He attempted to kill his son numerous times, but failed, so he asked his sister, Holika, for her help.
Holika was said to be immune to burning, so she sat in a fire and cradled the young prince. Since she used her powers for evil, her plan backfired and she died, while Prahlda emerged untouched by the fire.
Holi or “Fagu Purnima” is a festival of colors celebrated throughout the entire country of Nepal and India. They use “abeer,” a red vermilion powder and other colored powders to smear on each other’s faces to celebrate color. They use these same powders to fill water balloons, spraying colorful water on each other as another festivity.
Huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as an emblematic representation of the event that occurred. Holi is very special to the people of Nepal as they celebrate good’s victory over evil.
Personally, I have become fascinated with our international students and everything they have to offer my American way of thinking. As my friends were celebrating Holi and partaking in the many traditional festivities, I could not help but fall deeper and deeper in love with every aspect of their culture. By embracing those around us, it can give us a clearer picture of who we are.
Every ethnicity has their own distinct uniqueness and we, as a student body, need to embrace those unique traits that set these students apart from us. I have friends who do not understand my mini-obsession and would rather eat potato chips the rest of their life over trying a new cultural dish. It kills me when they brush off others as if they are inferior because they are different.
These international students have traveled millions of miles away to study here and experience our culture. Why can’t we let them teach us about their culture too? If we could all just take the time to embrace one another’s diversity rather than shun it, understanding each other would become second nature.
Whoever said “different” was a bad thing? Different can teach us many new things and possibly even change our lives forever.
Tina Marie Alvarenga, a senior Tech journalism major at Louisiana Tech, is from New Orleans.