The colours of Holi spread beyond India

The colours of the Indian festival Holi have extended across the globe, spread by Indian diaspora and those who appreciate Indian culture. Fiji, where nearly 45% of the population are of Indian origin, typically spends three days celebrating the festival and the country’s plurality every year. Fiji’s Multi-Ethnic Affairs Minister describes the event as one that breaks racial boundaries and spreads religious tolerance. Holi is also a public holiday in Mauritius, which has an Indian majority of 63%, and revellers throw colour with as much enthusiasm on the tiny island off the south eastern coast of Africa as they do in Holi’s homeland. Leicester, UK, which also has a large Indian community, sees upwards of 15,000 people celebrate each year, painting a normally green part of England, not only red, but pink, blue and yellow.  Singapore becomes a mini India during the Holi festival.

In Australia, many community groups organise Holi celebrations as means of promoting understanding and appreciation of Indian culture. Colour flies across the country, wherever members of Australia’s half-a-million strong Indian subcontinent population are present. Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney host Holi events, with Darling Harbour celebrating its tenth Holi festival this year. Holi even made its way to Parliament House in Canberra when the Federal Member for Holt, Victoria, Anthony Byrne, spoke appreciatively of his local Holi celebrations during Parliament last year.

Holi traditionally facilitates the loosening of social boundaries within Indian society. Why not use this year’s festival to learn more about Indian culture and contribute to social and cultural harmony. Wherever you are this 8th of March, think of spreading some colour!

By Louise Abbott

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