Kiri is a digital journalist for bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

Holi Festival expected to trump Diwali

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RJ Payal, who is helping organise the Holi Festival, gets into the spirit of the Festival of Colour which is being held at Tauranga's waterfront later this month. Photo / John Borren
RJ Payal, who is helping organise the Holi Festival, gets into the spirit of the Festival of Colour which is being held at Tauranga's waterfront later this month. Photo / John Borren

A new cultural festival pegged as being bigger, brighter and significantly more colourful than others of its type is set to be held in Tauranga's central city this month.

The Holi Festival will be held on Tauranga's waterfront, Strand and Wharf St on February 27, following on the heels of the city's first Diwali Festival of Lights from last year.

Organiser Sunil Kumar, of Curry Hut in Wharf St, said the festival was going to be more fun than the central city Diwali event, which he also organised.

RJ Payal helps lend a hand. Photo / John Borren
RJ Payal helps lend a hand. Photo / John Borren

"We haven't done this before but it will be similar with activities and fireworks."

Mr Kumar said Holi was a Hindu festival celebrated by Indian communities and increasingly by people of other communities around the world.

"It is also known as the Festival of Colours and the Festival of Love," he said.

"In the northern hemisphere it is a spring celebration of love, frolic, colours and the triumph of good over evil. It is a time for people to play and laugh, forget and forgive, repair broken relationships and to just let down their hair and enjoy their hidden crazy self.

"I guess here in this country we can say it is a celebration of the good things that come with a New Zealand summer."

Mr Kumar said Wharf St would be lined with stalls, live music and performance including youth dance troupes.

The music would be both traditional Indian music plus popular English songs.

"It will be good for families, especially younger children," Mr Kumar said.

While Wharf St itself would be closed to traffic to make way for the day's activities, the coloured powder throwing event will be held on the waterfront.

"It's our first time we are not sure of people's reaction so we will just do the colour [powder throwing] on the waterfront and we will see how the restaurants and people like it. If people like it they can take part," Mr Kumar said.

Holi celebrations normally involve a free-for-all carnival of colours where people play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water; water pistols and coloured water-filled balloons are used by participants in the water "fight" that forms a large part of the festival fun. Anyone and everyone is fair game.

Some participants dress up as animals while others dance to the rhythm of the dholak (drums) and sing traditional folk songs. It is also a time for families to be together and for people to exchange music, food and gifts.

Coloured powder will be available on the day for $2 - $3 each.

The event has been organised in conjunction with Downtown Tauranga and Tauranga City Council.

Downtown Tauranga manager Sally Cooke said she was delighted to be involved in putting on another event for people to enjoy in the city centre.

What is Holi?

* Hindus celebrate the Holi in early March, when wheat is harvested. Holi commemorates spring and the mythological stories of the god Krishna and the king Prahlad. In Hindu legend, during Holi Krishna covered Radha and her friends with coloured water and stole off with their clothes as they bathed. In the other story, Prahlad, the son of the king, refused his father's demand that he worship him rather than God. God saved Prahlad from death twice, first when the king ordered him killed, and again, when the king's evil sister, Holika, led Prahlad into a huge bonfire.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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