A beginner’s guide to Holi – the Festival of Colours – 10 questions answered


MultiConnexions PR & Social Media Manager, Katrina Hall looks at the fun-filled festival, and wishes all a Happy Holi filled with the colours of joy and happiness.

1. What is Holi?

The Holi Festival of Colours (also called Holi, Holika and Phagwa) is celebrated the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March). It is a day to mark spring, honour some events regarding Prahlada in the Hindu faith, and a time to disregard propriety and social norms and have a bit of fun!

2. When is Holi this year?

This year, the festival will likely be falling on Friday the 2nd of March, 2018.

3. What is the story behind the festival?

The story goes that Lord Brahma granted the haughty Demon King Hiranyakashipu virtual invincibility – and with his new powers, Hiranyakashipu arrogantly proclaimed himself a God. However, his son took issue with this and rebelled against him – thus enraging Hiranyakashipu who immediately ordered his son to be killed.

Many attempts were made in vain to carry out the murder. In desperation, Hiranyakashipu ordered Prahlada to be burned on a pyre along with his sister Holika, little knowing that Holika had been given immunity from fire by Lord Brahma.

Flames began to lick Prahlada and Holika – but the devout Prahlada prayed to Lord Vishnu to save him from the burning flames and, hearing the prayers, Lord Vishnu granted him mercy, while the fire consumed Holika. Alas, Holika did not know that her immunity worked only when she entered the fire alone!

Prahlada felt sorry for Holika and named Holi festival after her. Today, this story represents the end of pride and the day after the Holika bonfire is celebrated as Holi.

4. Who celebrates Holi?

Holi is widely celebrated in India, Australia and around the world by Hindus, Sikhs, some Jains, Newar Buddhists and other non-Hindus. Indians, and many other new audiences, are deeply rooted in their culture and this is a special time for them.

5. How do people celebrate Holi?

On the eve of Holi, a pyre is lit for Holika. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. People gather around the fire to sing and dance and may offer raw coconut and corn to the fire. The next morning, fun begins again in earnest with something akin to a high-stakes water-fight! Friends, family and strangers alike throw coloured powder, coloured water and coloured paint/ dye around in an atmosphere of frivolity and humour. The end results are a riot of colour and a truly unforgettable spectacle.

As one Holi festival attendee put it last year, “When we’re covered in colours, our differences no longer matter.”

6. Are there any traditional foods, clothes, or symbols on the day?

Holi is all about colour, so it’s probably best to wear clothes you don’t mind getting ruined! Aside from that, sweet dumplings (dahi vada), a condensed milk slice (barfi) and fried fritters (pakora) are popular Holi treats. Obviously, visiting family and friends is a very important part of Holi.

7. What happened on Holi last year around the world?

Utah is home to the largest Holi festival in the world outside of India. Australia, the UK and many countries also host amazing celebrations – both organised and informally. Holi has also inspired some fantastic celebrations around the world, including Florida’s Life in Color, the Netherlands’ Mumbai Color Festival, Holi One in South Africa, and Colorjam Music Festival in Texas among many others.

8. What can we expect this year?

This year Holi certainly promises to be bigger and better than ever, as more and more people are beginning to celebrate.

9. Is Holi marked in Australia? What events are there this year?

Australia’s South Asian community marks Holi in style, with a series of fun activities around the country – focussing particularly on Sydney and Melbourne, where most of our Indian diaspora reside. Celebrations around the country include Blacktown Holi Mela, Keysborough Holi Mela, Holi Mahotsav in Darling Harbour Sydney, Rockdale Colour Festival, Holi Mela Parramatta, Melbourne Holi Festival St Kilda, Wyndham Holi and Springfield Holi Festival in Brisbane to name but a small sample.

Such events are increasingly attracting the attention of major Australian brands looking to harness the goodwill during Holi, and target messages to the crowds of attendees via goodwill initiatives.

10. What is the marketing opportunity during Holi?

In addition to the above mentioned festival/ sponsorship marketing opportunities – for many brands there are many other terrific marketing opportunities to be tapped into during this period.

For example, during Holi many Indians choose to give their home a thorough spring-cleaning – often redecorating and disposing of old items. This means a great marketing opportunity for the retail sector with additional sales generated of household goods, clothing and more. It is a time when many Indians look at property investments and even changing their homes for a larger and better one.

Holi is also a wonderful time for marketers to integrate festive greetings into advertisements and marketing initiatives to capture the attention of enthusiastic people celebrating Holi.

8 of the best: Lunar New Year marketing campaigns with lots of bark and plenty of bite

Lunar New Year – it’s the most special time of year for the estimated 1.5 billion people that celebrate it. And this year, marketers worldwide have rolled out some top-notch marketing initiatives to tap into the increased spending, goodwill and opportunities during this time.

A marketer’s best friend

Lunar New Year is one of the oldest and most important traditions in Asian culture, and the 16th of February 2018 will herald the year of man’s best friend – the Dog. In this blog, MultiConnexions PR & Social Media Manager, Katrina Hall looks at LNY18 and asks – What is the multicultural marketing opportunity during this special time?

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is marked by around one-sixth of the world’s population – a total of approximately 1.5 billion people!

Names for the festival vary – for example, it is also commonly known as Chinese New Year or Spring Festival, but the naming varies according to region and country too – for example, Vietnamese celebrate Tet, Koreans celebrate Seollal, Tibetans celebrate Losar and Mongolians celebrate Tsagaan Sar – however, the common theme is that celebrations involve reunions, harmony and good fortune for the new year. It is also the world’s biggest annual detonation of fireworks, with fireworks lighting up the skies across much of East Asia (and the world!).

The Year of the Dog

In Chinese astrology, each zodiac year is associated with one of 12 animal signs – Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig, plus one of the five natural elements – metal, wood, water, fire, and earth.

Eggs and baskets

With belief in the resurrection  of Christ being so central to Christianity, Easter (falling on April 16 this year), and its lead-up, is a very meaningful time for Christians all around the world, with many attending church services even if they wouldn’t ordinarily do so. For the close to two thirds of Australia’s population identifying as Christian (according to Census, 2011) Easter also tends to bring to mind images of hot cross buns, chocolate eggs, baby animals, Easter egg hunts, and – of course – the Easter bunny.

But in the melting pot of Australia, cultural differences abound among various multicultural audiences celebrating Easter. The Greek Orthodox faith – for one – has some particularly noteworthy traditions around Easter.

Something to crow about in the Year of the Rooster

Lunar New Year is one of the busiest times for MultiConnexions (MCX), as there is often a flurry of work as our clients seek to target audiences of Chinese and other Asian backgrounds during a time when they are very receptive to positive messages.

The 2017 Lunar New Year was one of the most memorable for me, as I was heavily involved with the research and implementation of activations and events for our clients, Medibank and Telstra. It was also memorable as recently I had started to embrace Chinese culture more, starting to learn Mandarin at University of Sydney, as well as trying more Chinese cuisine (hotpot being a new favourite).

How Brands Can Capitalise on the Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year… Lunar New Year… Spring Festival… Whatever name you prefer to use, it’s the most significant festival celebrated by the Chinese diaspora across the world, and by communities with a strong Chinese relationship. It marks the first day of a new year on the lunar calendar, when these communities welcome another year with festivities that are steeped in cultural heritage.

Rule the roost with great guanxi

Lunar New Year (commonly called Chinese New Year) is one of the oldest and most important traditions in Asian culture. On the 28th of January, 2017 celebrations will come to a crescendo as we enter the ostentatious ‘Year of The Rooster’. This is tenth sign of the Chinese zodiac, and the rooster is generally said to be loyal, sociable and friendly (albeit, a little bossy). While celebrations go on for several weeks, the Lunar New Year period is typically a time when Chinese and other East Asian families come together with their family and friends to honour traditions, to enjoy each other’s company and to hope for a bright future.

Diwali – A missed opportunity for marketers?

Diwali (or Deepavali) is one of the biggest festivals celebrated by South Asians all over the world. It holds great spiritual significance and is the celebration of good trumping evil where fireworks and lanterns are lit, colourful glad-rags are worn, and delicious traditional sweets are exchanged over a period of 4 days.

And as the festivities are wrapping up (this year it ran from October 30 to November 3), it is the perfect time to reflect on whether or not this festival was a missed opportunity for Australian brands and marketers.

Five Tips for Engaging Multicultural Diasporas this Festive Season

Australia’s multicultural environment is no secret, and marketers cannot afford to ignore the spending power of ‘new audience’ Diasporas.

This Festive Season, connect with ‘new audience’ Diasporas and tap into their enormous marketing potential by tying in with cultural festivities.

Confluence Festival of India continues to amaze and inspire

Since launching in July, 2016, Confluence Festival of India, the most significant showcase of Indian art and culture ever in Australia, has drawn huge crowds and unprecedented levels of interest in the Australian community and among Indian Diaspora.

In his festival message, Mr. Navdeep Suri, the High Commissioner of India in Australia described the festival as, “Some of the finest elements from the rich tapestry of Indian culture and civilisation for our friends in Australia.”