Christchurch, February 11 2019
The Christchurch Holi festival held on February 2, 2019 reiterated its popularity, attracting more than 12000 people of all ethnicities resident in the South Island City.
Hagley Park North was the perfect venue, offering ease access with plenty of space to move about. The weather was also perfect -neither too hot, nor cold. The entry was free and open throughout the programme.
Festival for all
It was for everyone. Unlike a movie or a drama, there was no start or finish, which meant that you could enjoy anytime you entered the venue. One did not need to understand any particular language or know any art form to enjoy the event. It was a family friendly, alcohol-free and smoke-free Holi Festival.
Colour packs were on sale (between $2 for $5) but the first 200 persons who passed through the gates got a free pack thanks to one of the sponsors.
Maori and Indian Tradition mix
People had queued up even before the gates were opened. After the traditional Maori welcome, a traditional Indian classical welcome dance performance and a few short speeches, the event got underway.
Everyone was applying or throwing colour at one another. The vibrant colours on everyone’s faces and clothes seemed to match the smiles on the faces. A sense of fun and frolic was all pervading.
On and Off-Stage Performances
While people were enjoying amongst themselves, there were some excellent stage performances by several groups representing different ethnicities. There were off-stage events too – such as ‘Dahi-Handi’ (pot of yoghurt), where teams formed human pyramids to reach a pot hanging on top amidst encouraging cheers from the onlookers.
A unique and first time in New Zealand item was a Westpac Rescue helicopter dropping colourful flower petals from the sky on the Hagley Park and in the flowing Avon river.
There were plenty of food stalls offering a large selection of food and drinks, including ethnic and street food.
Multiculturalism in action
Those who enjoyed the event included children and senior residents.
Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel Several MPs, Councillors, Members of Christchurch Multicultural Council and other community leaders were at the event.
Many said that Christchurch Holi was the most enjoyable event in the annual calendar, and arguably the best example of multiculturalism in New Zealand.
Show Organiser Hitesh Sharma (of Revel Events) said, “I am very happy and satisfied at the immense popularity of the event, and hope to organise Holi every year.”
Shirish Paranjape is our Correspondent based in Christchurch.
Pictures by Shirish Paranjape, Christchurch Holi and JK Images