My face froze as I felt a soft hand rub my cheek from the side. As I glanced, I saw the warm smile of a woman, covered in gulal powder and determined to shower me in it as well.
As a first time Holi-goer at Radha Madhav Dham temple in Austin, this unapologetic paint throwing combined with words of kindness and celebration puzzled me at first. Nicknamed the festival of colors, Holi day celebrates the “triumph of evil over good,” according to holifestival.org.
“Happy Holi!” she yelled!
At exactly 7 p.m., as the sun began to set, a hue of pink began to fill the air, then blue, purple, green, orange and every shade in between followed – the celebration had started. Cheerful sounds of traditional music and laughter rang in the ears of everyone in the temple’s outdoor holy space, while the bright powder signified the colors brought by spring.
“This isn’t our first Holi, we do it a lot back home(India),” said attendee Prahlad Patel, who is named after the honored religious figure.
As the first part of the celebration and dancing died down, a fire lit up – revealing the colorful powder paint in the air. In Hindu culture, the significance behind the ceremonial lighting of the fire stems from the story of Prahlad who worshipped Lord Naarayana rather than the demon king Hiranyakashyap and his sister, Holika, who were his father and paternal aunt. The king tried to kill his son by having Holika hold him in her arms in a blazing fire.
“Holika took Prahlad in her arms and sat on a fire,” Patel said. “Because he worshipped [Lord Naarayana], God saved him from death – and Holika burned.”
For many, this was a traditional experience felt since childhood. For those outside the religion, the festival was about learning from a drastically different culture, one they may have never explored until now.
“We didn’t do stuff like Holi in our small town, the basic religions we had were Catholic and Baptist,” first time attendee Alexis Crutchfield said. “Even non-denominational Christian was rare, so I’d never seen a Hindu temple.”
The event was advertised as being open to everyone, regardless of religion or other different characteristics. This gave individuals like Crutchfield an “eye-opening experience.”
“It was very bright, colorful and exciting, you don’t get that with a lot of other religions. I was raised Southern Baptist and we didn’t have as much fun,” Crutchfield said. Everyone was so kind and welcoming, plus they were all encompassing and open to non-Hindu people.”
As the festivities prepared to come to a close, friends, family and kind strangers hugged and kissed one another on the cheeks. When I prepared to leave, a group of children stared suspiciously at me while standing in a circle. A second after putting my head down I was met with a face full of orange and red paint.
“Happy Holi!” they shouted, bidding farewell until colors fill the air again next year.
Journalism students found a way to change the function of social media to create online presence and make a name for themselves early on.
Since the rise of the internet on a wide scale, social media has been popular among young adults to share thoughts and life-happenings. Many feel the internet is more harmful than hurtful, as what goes online is preserved forever. Students doing broadcasting, writing and video production flipped the reputation by using it to boost their careers.
For journalism freshman Mark Skol, social media sites promote his work to a larger audience. His work with Texas Student Television(TSTV), The Daily Texan and KVRX radio reach hundreds of people due to his social media presence.
“You’re not recognized if you don’t promote your work,” Skol said. “Most of your readers get their news online. Facebook and Twitter give you that extra boost for more views.”
After gaining a following through his work online, Skol was contacted through Twitter by houndsports.com and profootballspot.com to take on positions as a writer, reporting on the Chicago Bulls and Bears. More recently, Skol’s study group connected and shared notes through the Facebook to boost grades, where he also posts about upcoming television appearances and new sports stories.
“I’ll always say ‘Check out my article’ online – it nevers hurts but you have to be consistent to get your [articles] read,” Skol said.
Similarly, journalism freshman Belicia Luevano received a direct message while scrolling down her Twitter feed, after opening she realized it was a job offer from F & F Presents, an online publication featuring up and coming artists. Luevano said the outlet saw her writing and photography through a post she’d made on Facebook and thought “she’d be perfect for the job.”
“[Since posting links on Facebook] my blogs and websites get more hits,” Luevano said. “I have over 2000 friends on facebook so when I post links it gets shared and viewed about 200-400 more times.”
In addition to her personal blogs, she also holds the position of Social Media Supervisor for a TSTV show called Austin Underground, which she believes to be vital in gaining viewers and participants.
“ I make the tweets and posts constant, relevant and attention grabbing. People become more aware of what we’re doing,” Luevano said.
Luevano thinks social media is popular among journalists young and old because people in the modern day want to see news that connects to them on a personal level. She says this includes everything from using popular colloquialisms to simply “typing how you would talk.”
“People like social media news because it’s young and fluid,” Luevano said. “It’s more relaxed and cool so anybody can read and get into what we’re putting out.”
When creating a personal brand, Luevano kept this in mind as she aimed to make her online personality authentic.
“Nowadays most first impressions are on social media. Employers check to see someone who presents themselves as relatable and enjoyable to work around,” Luevano said.
For upperclassmen like journalism junior Chelsea Gant, social media is used towards academic and career goals. For a Reporting Images project, she covered the recent United Against Racism rally – the idea brought to her attention through a simple Facebook e-vite from a friend.
“A lot of times for story ideas I go to trending topics on Twitter or just search words and typically will see something interesting that’s going on,” Gant said. “The best part is that Twitter is real time so something happening right at that second will be posted and I can find out about it before a news station will.”
With Facebook’s ability to access location, happenings can be shown to student journalists, possibly creating a future article topic. Gant said Facebook is “helpful with events considering most of the things shown are nearby.”
From forming study groups to getting inspired by Facebook events to creating an online personal brand for potential employers, these young journalists believe adapting to the modern social media hype doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
They each found a way to use the trend in their favor, a thing Skol thinks will help rising reporters in the future.
“I’d say social media is a positive aspect in our lives,” Skol said. “I want to be on radio, television and a writer, and to do that I definitely have to know how to connect.”