Our new blog series invites members and friends of WIN to prepare a ‘festival diary’, exploring the history and significance of specific rituals or outlining the routine of religious celebrations, as a window into the lived experience of people of different faiths. This week’s author, Dr. Sudarshan Kapur MBE, is the Chair of our Gants Hill WIN group.

Holi is the Festival of Colours, which marks the coming of Spring. It is celebrated for several days in the month of Phalguna, which falls in February/March. It is a celebration of New Life and the season. Some people have religious ceremonies and for the majority, it is more time for Fun and Oneness.

Holi is the most important Hindu Festival when there is no distinction of Caste, Class, Age, Gender. We smear each other with various colours and coloured water. Usually we wear white clothes so the colours are more obvious. We sing ‘HOLI HA HOLI HA’, meaning Happy Holi. The Holi Festival bridges the social gap and renews sweet relationships. On this day people hug each other and there is a spirit of Brotherhood among families and communities.

According to Hindu Religious books, we call them Puranas, there are so many legends about Holi. The Festival is ancient and connected with the Legend of Prahlad. Prahlad was was the son of King Hiranyakashipu. He considered himself as God and wanted everyone to worship him. Prahlad refused and Hiranyakashipu tortured him many times. The King’s sister named Holika was made immune to Fire by wearing a scarf on her. She put Prahlad in her lap, they lit a fire and the scarf flew away with the wind so Holika was burnt and nothing happened to Prahlad as he was a true devotee of God.

Lord Krishna played Holi in Vraj, Utter Pradesh in India and over there they celebrate for the whole month. On this day Lord Shiva also opened his Third Eye and reduced Kamadeva (The God of Love) to ashes as he disturbed Lord Shiva during his Meditation

This year Holi is on March 18th. On March 17th in the evening, we have a Bonfire and put peanuts, coconut, corn and some vegetables on it. We also do some prayers with the family at home to get rid of all negativity and celebrate the victory of good over evil.

On March 18th I am going to celebrate Holi on Zoom in my Yoga session as I am doing five Yoga and Laughter Yoga sessions and two Devotional sessions per week since March 13th 2020 soon after the Covid Pandemic began. We are a Global Zoom family. We will wear nice clothes, put some colour on our faces and have sweet and savoury snacks with soft drinks or tea and coffee, with singing and dancing. On March 20th I am going to celebrate in the local temple keeping in mind all the precautions of Covid.

Happy Holi to all of you!