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.

The Journey from Rich Media to Social Media

Once upon a time YouTube was home of rich media formats. Today, rich media, as we know it, has evolved and is travelling across the World Wide Web for bigger and better things. Just like a ‘selfie’, it has found its new home on social media platforms and it is here that it is screaming for attention to all who are willing to listen.

Multiculturalism in Australian Small Business

I’ve been a self-proclaimed Sydney-sider for almost nine years now. Having had a culturally diverse upbringing in four different countries, prior to making Sydney home, I can say with confidence that my new home is one of the most diverse. The very suburb I live in ranks 11th in the recent SBS interactive “how diverse is my suburb”, representing 125 different ancestries. Chinese makes up the largest chunk followed by Australian, Macedonian, Greek, Lebanese, Nepalese and Indian.

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Acceptance of diversity is part of our society in Australia and Australians do diversity really well when it comes to opening doors to migrants from across borders and helping them build their future here. After all, close to 47% of our population were born overseas or have a parent born overseas, of which, approximately 25% of our overall Australian population are from Asian cultures. This is just a conservative estimation while we await Census 2016 figures.

The rise of India

By Diya Dasgupta

The 2004 India Shining Campaign, a controversial marketing slogan popularized by the then ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – India’s current new government – may well be the boost India needed then to elevate its image today as a potential 21st century economic superpower.

The largest democracy in the world
India is the world’s largest democracy has a population of 1.26 billion, 814 million voters and over 400 mother tongues – 29 of which alone are spoken by 1 million people or more.

And with a new government that promises to restore India’s Industrial Revolution, the path is set to propel India to centre stage in the global economic arena.

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

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Three thousand years ago before the celebration of Christmas, the Chinese began to tell a mythical tale of an animal race to claim their places in the Chinese horoscope.

Bridging the Cultural Gap – Gangnam Style?

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Walking through a busy department store on my way to work, I find myself tuning out from the daily reminders of Australia’s role in the Asian Century, cycling endlessly in my head. Instead I focus on the music and I recognise Gangnam Style, the latest trend to hit Australia’s music scene. That’s when it hit me. This cultural gap that has continued to obstruct Australia’s relations with its Asian neighbours: could Gangnam style be the answer?

As of 27 December 2012, the Youtube video of Gangnam Style had been viewed over one billion times, making it the most viewed video to date. Its catchy tune and even catchier “giddy-up” dance moves has burgeoned an interest in Asian pop, never before seen in Australia. Bars and pubs in Melbourne once showing rock groups and other artists are now regularly booked by Korean-American rappers, Chinese indie-rockers and Mongolian hip-hoppers. But by far the greatest thing about this growing interest is that it appears to span many groups and cultures. As Caroline Sullivan notes in her review of another South Korean K-Pop group to hit the Western charts, Big Bang, K-pop is proof that music recognises no boundaries.

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