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Indian students in 21 US campuses protest, 'reclaim' Holi as festival of unity in diversity

By Our Representative
In a unique event, Indian students studying across the United States held a nationwide campaign called Holi Against Hindutva. Standing with placards against the Government of India's move to amend citizenship laws, protests took place as many as 21 U.S. university campuses, including Yale, Columbia, Cornell, Princeton, Wellesley, Michigan State, Duke and Rutgers.
According to a report of the protests from Cambridge at Massachusetts, college students said they were seeking to reclaim the spirit of Holi, which around the world, is known as Hinduism’s festival of colors, a joyful celebration of spring in which people take to the streets to shower one another in colorful powders.
Celebrating as symbolising celebration of unity and diversity, the students in Harvard Yard reached the steps of Memorial Church to mark the festival, shouting “Azaadi!” while holding slogans such as "No one is illegal," "Boycott NRC (National Register for Citizens)," and "Stop genocide in India!”
“The power of Holi is that it is a festival of colors, celebrating unity and diversity,” said Vedant Bahl, who serves as the Harvard coordinator for the group Students Against Hindutva, which arranged the campaign. “Unfortunately, notions of unity and diversity have been stripped away by the Indian government’s recent actions,” he added.
Founded late last year, Students Against Hindutva is led by Shreeya Singh, a junior at Yale University, the report said, adding, last month, the group published an open letter to Congress urging sanctions against Indian government officials, signed by 44 South Asian student groups at a slew of prominent universities.
Bahl
“We stand in solidarity with those who have faced the brunt of horrific state brutality and police violence, particularly the student protesters at Jamia and Aligarh Muslim University,” the letter states. “... as those in the diaspora or those who may be unaffected by the implications of the NRC and CAA, we believe that it is our responsibility to stand behind those who are fighting for secularism and democracy.”
“The celebrations won't be the same in India this year,” said Bahl, a senior majoring in economics. “The festival that previously brought together Hindus, Muslims, Christians and people from all castes and backgrounds — or at least was imagined to be such — is not going to be that in these months of communal hatred and open polarization. We are reclaiming Holi from the forces of Hindutva that have broken it down.”
The event has been criticized by pro-Hindutva groups as “Hindu-phobic” and flouting the sanctity of a Hindu religious festival. The Hindu American Foundation’s director, Suhag Shukla, called the campaign an “anti-Hindu project” that demeans religious traditions by “importing caste wars onto our college campuses.”
However, New York City’s Sadhana said that speaking up against injustice in such a way is part of Hinduism’s core teaching and hosted its own Holi satsangh during which they prayed for those who died in Delhi. The U.S.-based organization Hindus for Human Rights applauded the group’s “creative use of Holi to subvert the bigoted and anti-Hindu agenda” of Modi’s party.

Comments

Unknown said…
There is a major mistake in the very first para of your report. You talk of "....Government of India's move to amend citizenship laws ... " giving the impression that something bad or illegal was being attempted. The fact is that the CAA bill does not address any Indian Citizen at all , nor does it in any way impinge on their rights - minorities and all. This bill only concerns the giving of Indian Citizenship to approximately 31,000 refugees from non-muslim minorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. who were persecuted in these ISLAMIC states because of their religion. It is quite clear from your report that even you are totally mis-informed about this bill. Sadly your report just gives credence to the propaganda by the Leftists, Congress and Muslim blocks that the CAA bill is somehow anti Muslim, or anti Indian constitution.
Jag Jivan said…
Mr Unknown is refusing to reveal his identity lest his communal bullshit would get exposed. CAA is about giving about citizenship to foreigners of selected Islamic countries; why not Tamil Hindus or Buddhist Tibetans?
Pankaj Shah said…

First of all I did not hide my identity. I am 75 years old and not too familiar with these new fangled sites to know how to create an ID. My Name is Pankaj Shah and I am from Mumbai. The simple question I want to ask is .."Does India really need more people ?" Do we not already have too big a population to manage? What the CAA bill does is grant citizenship to refugees who were PERSECUTED due to their religion in Islamic states and who are ALREADY IN THE COUNTRY since many years and are finding it hard to make a living without the basic documents. You have a good point , why not Tamil Hindus or Tibetans. I am not sure if you are aware that tens of thousands of Tibetans have already received refuge in India and 135,000 Sri Lankan Tamils had been granted citizenship some years ago. And finally,if you want, agitate PEACEFULLY and demand that others be included. But why oppose the CAA with violence? You claim you have a RIGHT given by the Indian Constitution to protest, but what about the rights of other citizens that you are taking away by creating violence and shutting down shops for 3 - 4 months? What about their right to a livelihood? The same constitution has created the parliament and CAA After all is a law passed by India's parliament. It is not fair that you only choose those parts of the Constitution that you like or that favour your cause. Violence is wrong and it should not be resorted to no matter how just the cause.

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