Organisers of an Indian festival celebrated publicly for the first time in Hastings believe there were twin impacts from the Christchurch mosques tragedy.

Sonal Chauhan, who came to New Zealand from Fiji seven years ago and lives in Hastings, said there were people who came to the Hindu Holi spring-season festival celebration to show their support for the community in the wake of the shootings in the South Island.

But she said there may also have been people who stayed away because of fear caused by the horror.

"We held a minute's silence to show our respects, because we didn't want people to think we were holding the festival out of disrepect," she said. "Everyone was very happy to be there."


It was a colourful affair, Holi being typified by the celebration of colours associated with springtime, along with the "chucking" water at each other.

Children in particular found fascination with pichkari, a water gun also traditionally part of the festival, although the modern variation is made of plastic.

Staged at Frimley School by a group formed about a year ago to bring together the Hindu community in the region and to help educate others about such festivals and others parts of the Hindu way of life, it attracted as many as 200 people in the 3-4 hours before deteriorating weather took over.

"We hope to do it again, because the response was really good, and a lot of our New Zealand friends said they really enjoyed it," she said.