Category: Campus Life

Title: How I Found Dharmic Community at Georgetown This Holi

Author: Harnoor Sachar (SFS'26)
Date Published: March 28, 2024

When I committed to Georgetown two years ago, I remember wondering how my Sikh-American identity would align with the school’s Jesuit values and identity. And yet, in these two years, I have found community, celebration, and solace in the Dharmic community at Georgetown University.

Georgetown celebrates the religion and identities of many diverse faiths. A quintessential example of this was the Spring Fest celebration hosted by Dharmic Life this past weekend! Spring Fest is a joint celebration hosted by many organizations at Georgetown, including Dharmic Life, GU Hindu Student Association, Asian American Student Association, Sikh Student Association, Buddhist Student Association and Jain Student Association. 

These communities come together to celebrate their respective spring holidays while sharing their joy with other members of the larger Dharmic community. This year, we came together to celebrate Holi, Vaisakhi, Songkran, Yugadi, Mahavir Jayanti and Wesak. These holidays, although celebrated in different traditions, are known as “spring festivals” and celebrate the spring harvest in South Asia.

On the count of three, everyone throws a fist full of color in the air! Before putting colors on your friends and family, people often like to throw them in the air to mark the beginning of the celebration.

My role in Spring Fest was to represent the Sikh Student Association and share a prayer with others, emphasizing the importance of growing as a person, alongside the growth of spring season. On behalf of the organization, I spoke about the importance of Vaisakhi, as it holds profound significance for Sikhs. Vaisakhi commemorates the formation of the Khalsa, the community of initiated Sikhs, by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. It marks a pivotal moment in Sikh history, symbolizing courage, sacrifice and the commitment to uphold principles of equality, justice and righteousness. Sikhs celebrate Vaisakhi with fervor, engaging in prayers, processions, communal meals (langar) and acts of service, reaffirming their faith and celebrating the spirit of unity and selflessness.

On Sunday, after the arati (Hindu prayer) was conducted, the shabad (Sikh prayer) was read, and student group leaders made their speeches, everyone raced to the highlight of the morning: the colors. Colored powders are a staple in the Hindu festival of Holi, celebrated predominantly in India and Nepal., It signifies the triumph of good over evil and the arrival of spring. Color plays a central role in Holi celebrations, symbolizing the diversity of nature and fostering unity among people as they joyfully drench each other in vibrant hues, breaking down social barriers and spreading happiness.

For me, Spring Fest is not just about celebration, but celebration with my community. I have had the privilege of finding a South Asian community here at Georgetown, especially through the Sikh Student Association and Georgetown Jawani. Community has played a vital role in my college experience, andit has offered a sense of belonging, support and camaraderie. As someone who grew up going to the gurudwara (Sikh temple) and surrounded by a religious community, I expected that I would have to leave that behind when coming to college. As students, we pride ourselves on our Georgetown spirit, which is heavily reliant on our values, especially that of “community in diversity.” I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to celebrate with my newfound Georgetown community. 

Harnoor Sachar (SFS’26) is a sophomore in the SFS studying Science, Technology, and International Affairs. She loves engaging with culture and experiencing new things at Georgetown.