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Student-led Holi Moli Festival of Colors is back, this time in Uptown Normal

Spreading color at Holi Moli
Emily Bollinger
WGLT file
Highlights from Holi Moli - A Bloomington-Normal Festival of Colors on Saturday, April 8, 2023, in downtown Bloomington.

Normal Community High School students are organizing the 2nd annual Holi Moli Festival of Colors at the Uptown Normal circle to help continue to connect the Bloomington-Normal community with Indian culture. The event is Saturday from 1-4 p.m.

The NCHS South Asian Performing Arts Club (SAPA) and Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Culture Club have taken the lead in planning and hosting Holi Moli. The students involved say the event can shine a light on their own cultures.

NCHS senior Shruthi Vudaru said one goal of Holi Moli has been to help show Bloomington-Normal what Indian culture truly consists of.

“When I was growing up, I felt a lot of stigma around my culture, especially when trying to showcase it,” Vudaru said. “It’s really inspiring to see that I can reach so many people with my culture and so many people want to be involved in my culture.”

According to NCHS junior Anushi Kiribamune, both SAPA and API were created because Normal Community has such a large population of Asian students.

Kiribamune said both organizations want to expand their reach into the Bloomington-Normal community because their school reflects the demographic of the town.

“There is a huge Asian community there [in Bloomington-Normal],” Kiribamune said. “We wanted to expand it [Asian culture] and make sure that everyone can experience the cultures that are present in the community.”

Girl in grey shirt, girl in black shirt, boy in grey shirt, and girl in purple shirt pose for a photo
Evy York
Normal Community High School students Zoey Chen, Anushi Kiribamune, Ani Abbina, and Shruthi Vudaru.

The Holi Moli Festival of Colors was created in 2023 by two NCHS then-seniors. It celebrates one of Indian culture’s most important celebrations – Holi, the Festival of Colors.

Kiribamune said during Holi, everyone comes to the festival dressed in white and throw colored powder at one another. This year's event is moving to Uptown Normal, after spending last year in Downtown Bloomington.

“It’s [Holi Moli] is just a fun event where everyone can enjoy themselves and enjoy the competitive spirit of it [Holi Moli],” Kiribamune said.

Both NCHS senior Ani Abbina and Vudaru were involved in the planning and hosting in the inaugural year of Holi Moli in 2023. Throughout the planning process this year, changes were made to make the event run more smoothly.

Abbina said since Holi Moli was such a big event last year, the use of sponsorships and grants have contributed to making improvements to the festival.

The Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau provided a grant of $2,500 for the event which was able to cover all expenses.

“We also have two free color packets for everyone coming because last year we had people pay for them,” Abbina said. “But because we have the grant, we just wanted to make it more accessible to the community.”

The Holi Moli Festival of Colors will be April 13 from 1-4 p.m. in Uptown Normal. Be sure to look for flyers in both Uptown Normal and Downtown Bloomington.

Evy York was a student reporting intern WGLT during the spring 2024 semester.