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Penn students celebrating Holi on April 13, 2018. Credit: Son Nguyen

Penn's Class Boards, the Hindu & Jain Association, and Penn Traditions will jointly host a Holi celebration Friday at 5 p.m. on College Green — for the first time since 2019

Holi is an ancient Hindu festival celebrating the beginning of spring and the blossoming of love. During Holi, people throw colored powder into the air and on each other to celebrate. To prepare, the Class Boards have purchased thousands of pounds of powder in six different colors. 

They plan to distribute individual packages of colored powder before the event for students to throw. Student dance groups — including those from the South Asian Society — will perform, and the first 900 people in attendance will get free white t-shirts.

“Having our own celebration allows us to bring the Penn community together and celebrate the Festival of Colors,” College sophomore and 2024 Class Board member Charles Schumer said. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Penn's Holi annual celebration has been put on hold for three years. Student planners said that they anticipate the turnout at the event's return this year to be the largest yet.

Organizers began planning for the event in late January. At first, they were concerned about the possibility of canceling the Holi celebration due to the high number of COVID-19 cases that the Penn community experienced near the beginning of the semester. 

However, following Penn's relaxation of the mask mandate in most indoor spaces, the event planners said that they will not require participants to wear masks, but will check participants' Penn Cards and Penn Open Passes.

The organizers said that they chose to host the celebration on April 1 — instead of the observed date for Holi on March 18 — because they wanted to let students visit family and friends on the holiday and choose how they celebrate. 

“[2025 Class Board] collaborated with all the Class Boards, which was a cool experience since it doesn’t usually happen,” College first year and 2025 Class Board vice president Amaan Omer said.

The organizers also chose to host the celebration on College Green because it is "more inclusive". "Anyone can come and join whenever is most convenient for them,” Omer said.