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Hindu festival a first for Wairarapa

The very colourful Hindu festival of Holi attracted a gathering of about 80 people at Solway School for what is thought to be the first time it has been formally celebrated in Wairarapa.

Families from throughout the region took part in the recent event, hosted by the Wairarapa Indian Association in collaboration with Masterton District Council’s Welcoming Communities coordinator Arti Kadian.

The Holi festival is celebrated according to the Hindu calendar as a way to welcome spring [the Masterton event was timed to coincide with the start of the season in India], and is also seen as a new beginning where people can release all their inhibitions and start afresh.

It is said that during the Holi Festival the gods turn a blind eye, and so it’s one of the few times during the year when extremely devout Hindus allow themselves to let loose.

A bonfire is lit to symbolically burn away all the bad and clear a path to a colourful and vibrant new future.

Participants throw powder dye into the air, covering all in attendance with vibrant colours. In a religious sense, the colours are rich with symbolism.

For some, washing off the dye at the end of the day can mean a new commitment to live well, as well as cleansing oneself of evil and demons.

Kadian was delighted to be able to mark the festival in Masterton for the first time.

“One of the aims of Immigration New Zealand’s Welcoming Communities programme is to acknowledge the cultural values of newcomers to our community and Holi was a great example of that,” she said.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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