Spring Jam: Holi or Folly?

As a former student during my formative undergraduate years, I often follow various Gophers events. One such event is Spring Jam. The usual events are activities that range all over the spectrum, culminating into a celebratory concert at a venue on campus. I have been less privy to Spring Jam as I finished my undergraduate, but my sister attends the University of Minnesota and keeps me updated on the various events.
 
This year, my sister informed me that Holi would be celebrated. I was perplexed that a religious festival was integrated into Spring Jam. Other individuals who went to Holi tell me they did not know what the festival was for, except that it is a “spring festival.” 
 
For example, Holi now has culminated into “Holi fun run” in many cities. I understand that playing with colors and running can be fun, but why call it a Holi run? 
 
In the United States, no matter where our roots are from, we are faced with different cultures and ideologies on almost a constant basis. It is integral to our definition of being American that we have an understanding of our differences.
 
This does not mean we have to be a part of or believe in multiple cultures or religions. However, we should know something about them as well as have respect for them because that is inherent to the U.S. We pride ourselves on being a nation of multiple cultures and, irrespective of that, we live harmoniously.
 
I think Spring Jam, Holi runs and other such events are all evidence of the general public having little awareness of Hindu traditions. While it is nice that we are incorporating some practices, it means little when there is little or no understanding of what is happening. I would place the burden of teaching mainly to the organizers of these events.
 
For anyone interested in what Holi really means, here is one such explanation.
 
The word “Holi” originates from “Holika,” the evil sister of a demon king, Hiranyakashipu. King Hiranyakashipu was the King of Multan and had earned a boon that made him virtually indestructible. The special powers blinded him, he grew arrogant, thought he was god and demanded that everyone worship only him.
 
Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada, however, disagreed. He was and remained devoted to another god, Vishnu. This infuriated Hiranyakashipu. Finally, Holika —
Prahlada’s evil aunt — tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her.
 
Holika was wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada was not. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada.
 
While Holika burned, Prahlada survived. Vishnu appeared and killed Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire is a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, of fire that burned Holika.