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UCF students took part in a long-standing Hindu festival called Holi this Sunday at the Lake Claire Recreation Area.

During the event, students were given powder paints, which they then threw at anyone and everyone who was within range. They threw colors at their friends, acquaintances and even strangers who they had never met before — because everyone is fair game during this spring festival.

"Holi is celebrated every year in India to welcome spring, because India is very big on agriculture," said Neel Sheth, a junior electrical engineering major. "So colors are supposed to represent different crops that India grows."

Sangam, the Indian Student Association, has been organizing this event at UCF for many years. Chirag Merchant, a senior civil and industrial engineering major, said this year's event was bigger than those held in the past. Snigdha Ila, volunteer director for Sangam and a sophomore at UCF, said around 350 people attended this year's festival.

"A lot of people associate Holi with the Color Run and stuff like that, so we wanted to tell them what the significance behind Holi was," said Ila. "The whole point is [that] you shouldn't have any distances, regardless of who your enemies or who your friends are: Everyone should be the same. It's like a new year."

Abigail Forbes, a sophomore nursing student, said it was her first time participating in the event.

"I heard [about Holi] through a friend that's in the Sangam club," said Forbes. "I've seen pictures and videos of this event, but I've never experienced it in person. I loved it."

Holi provided Indian students an opportunity to share their culture and traditions with other students; Ila said students of every race and culture came out and were interested in asking questions about the tradition and significance behind Holi.

"It is kind of celebrating the beginning of spring, as well as the beginning of the Hindu New Year, essentially," said Merchant. "It's very religious to us and very cultural, but at the same time, it doesn't mean we don't like other people coming in and being involved and having fun."

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Valentina Bore is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.

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