Festival of Colours brings unity and joy

Staff Reporter

In Hinduism, Holi (also called ‘Holika’ or ‘Phagwa’) is an annual festival celebrated on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna.

It celebrates spring, commemorates various events in Hindu mythology and is time of disregarding social norms and indulging in general merrymaking.

This year, Holi will be celebrated in India on March 1 and March 2, although a number of organisations in New Zealand may celebrate the event on preceding or succeeding weekend.

Holi in New Zealand

Holi festivities will commence on March 1, 2018 in Rotorua.

The two-day event will be held at the Rotorua Night Market located at Tutanekai Street from 5 pm to 9 pm.

Bhartiya Samaj Charitable Trust and Humm FM Radio will host Holi Celebrations from 12 pm to 7 pm on Saturday, March 3, 2018 at Three Kings Reserve on Mt Eden Road, Auckland.

Waitakere Indian Association has organised its mega event on Sunday, March 4, 2018 at Corban Estate Art Centre, located at 2 Mt Lebanon Lane, Henderson in Auckland. The festival will commence at 1030 am and conclude at 5 pm. Please read separate story in this Section.

Christchurch Holi will be held from 10 am to 4 pm at North Hagley Park Events Village (Rolleston Avenue) on Saturday, March 17, 2018 from 10 am to 4 pm.

For the first time in New Zealand history, Holi will be marked in Parliament on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 hosted by Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa.

Least Religious

Holi is probably the least religious of Hindu holidays. During Holi, Hindus attend a public bonfire, spray friends and family with colored powders and water, and generally go a bit wild in the streets.

The central ritual of Holi throwing and applying coloured water and powder on friends and family gives the holiday its common name ‘Festival of colours.’ This ritual is said to be based on legends relating to the pranks of Lord Krishna as a child, but the beginning of Spring in India is the most popular reason for the Festival.

The ‘Holika’ Version

According to another legend, Holi is related to Hiranyakashipu, an evil King, who proscribed his son Prahlad from worshipping Lord Vishnu. Prahlad however did not heed to his father’s word.

An enraged Hiranyakashipu challenged Prahlad to sit on a pyre with his wicked aunt Holika who was believed to be immune to fire. (In an alternate version, Holika put herself and Prahlad on the fire on orders from her brother.)

Prahlad accepted the challenge and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika was burnt to death, while Prahlad survived without a scar. The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.

According to some accounts, Holika begged Prahlad for forgiveness before her demise, and he decreed that she would be remembered every year at Holi.

The Shiva Theory

An alternative account of the basis of the holiday is associated with a legend involving Lord Shiva, one of the major Hindu Gods. Shiva is known for his meditative nature.

Madana, the God of Love, decided to test his resolve and appeared to Shiva in the form of a beautiful nymph. But Shiva recognised Madana and in a fit of rage, shot fire out of His Third Eye and reduced her to ashes. This forms the basis for Holi’s bonfire.

Holi Customs

Holi treats humankind as one race and does not distinguish between men and women, poor and rich, old and young and bosses and servants. A common saying that is heard on this day is ‘Bura na mano, Holi hai’ (Do not be offended, it is Holi).

Photo :

  1. Christchurch Diwali
  2. Holi in Rotorua 2013 (Courtesy: Scoop)

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