British Asia News Network
By Sushma Lobo
London: The UK is alive with colour this month, as the city celebrates the Hindu festival of Holi.
The celebrations illustrate the end of winter and the arrival of spring; with the official festival date being March 20th-21st.
It is in the UK being marked with events throughout the month, from fabulous cultural dining experiences, temple bonfires, park colour and bonfire get together’s, to technicolour parties, and the festival of Holi promises to be one of the uplifting and feel-good moments of the year.
The festival is officially over two days, the first night of the festival, worshipers attend bonfires which symbolises the burning away of evil spirits.
Various colours and water colours are thrown on each other, amidst loud music, drums, dancing etc. to celebrate Holi. Like many other Hindu festivals, Holi also signifies a victory of good over evil.
Holi in Leicester
More than a third of people living in Leicester are migrants or second generation migrants, who have a fruitful and diverse history; a history that shapes Leicester today.
Some migrants have been here for decades; others were forced here as refugees more recently. The South Asian population form a mosaic of groups, whose stories start in the world’s post WWII resettlement boom.
Given the post war demand for workers in Britain there was a considerable incentive to migrate; Indians and Pakistanis moved to properties in the Spinney Hill and Belgrave areas of Leicester, where affordable private housing was available.
The later arrival of Asians from East Africa marked a substantial time in Leicester’s migration history; East African Asians now constitute the dominant sub-group in the Leicester Asian community.
As a result Holi is a huge celebration in Leicester with the Asian community.
The Shree Hindu Temple and Community Centre, St Barnabas Road, Leicester invited friends and family to celebrates Holi at The Spinney Hill Park on East Park Road, Leicester on Wednesday 20th between 4pm-9pm. I have been going there as a child enjoying a colourful burst of cultural heritage for many years now.
This year the Holi celebration was bigger than ever and vibrant, there were stalls for jewellery by Jiya’s Jewellery, vegetarian catering by Desi Pot, a medical team present by Leicester Event Medical Ltd.
Jagruti Kanani from Jiya’s Jewellery said “It was a fantastic event, this was the first Holi event we covered, we do other events Punjabi Mela, Leicester Mela, Ramadan bazaar etc. Event was very good and I liked the event”. Jagruti’s stall had jewellery ranging from American diamond jewellery, bangles, handbags, long kurtas, leggings, plazas, Indian outfits, gift items and many more.
Komal Gill the owner of Desi Pot said “it was a good event, there was a lot of public and people thoroughly enjoyed themselves. There was also a DJ so people were dancing”
Desi Pot had a full blown mouth-watering menu of dosa’s, chilli paneer, grilled sandwiches, pani-puri and the list goes on.
People came with friends and family to enjoy the evening Ashwin Patel who was celebrating Holi said “A trio of generations coming together in the evening to celebrate the festival of colour in a peaceful manner”
Sushila Patel came with her sister and comes every year “it was an evening of fun, nice weather, we did garba the food was good and we had an enjoyable evening”
The Prajapati family came with the whole family and enjoyed the colourful evening. The Dj set the park alight with crowds of young people dancing and there were crowds enjoying the traditional folk dance of Garba.
The huge bonfire was the focal point where everyone came to do their Poojas and take Prasad. The medical ambulance team, Callum Johnston (manager) Demi Handley and Chris Babb were on standby and also enjoyed the colourful vibrant evening with colour on their face!
Colour was everywhere, the bonfire was lit, Poojas being carried out and people enjoying the energetic music, the culture and colourful celebrations.
The Legend of Holi
Holi is celebrated for the legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakshyap. The legend goes there once lived an evil and powerful king, Hiranyakshyap who considered himself a god. He wanted everybody to worship him. It all started when his son, Prahlad began to worship Lord Krishna. Furious and to get rid of his son, Hiranyakshyap asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap, as she had a blessing to enter fire unharmed. Legend has it that Prahlad was saved for his extreme devotion for the lord while Holika paid a price for her sinister desire. The tradition of burning Holika or the ‘Holika dahan’ comes mainly from this legend.
How did Holi become a colour festival in the community?
This takes us back to the period of Lord Krishna. It is believed that Lord Krishna used to celebrate Holi with colours. He used to play Holi with his friends at Vrindavan and Gokul. Playing pranks all across the village turning this into a community event. Today if you were to visit Vrindavan the Holi festival here would be a huge celebration like no other in the world.Holicelebrates the legend of Radha and Krishna who made it a trend. This prank of Krishna later became a movement and a part of the Holi festivities.
Holi is an ancient festival and started well before Christ birth. Evidence of its existence come from temples of ancient India which have sculptures of Holi on walls. A temple from the 16th century in Hampi, the capital of Vijayanagar has many scenes from Holi sculpted on its walls showing princes and princesses along with their maids holding pichkaris to squirt water on royals. Many medieval paintings such as a 16th century Ahmednagar painting, Mewar painting (circa 1755), Bundi miniature all depicts Holi celebrations in one way or the other.