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Sun Dec 21 06:04:45 SAST 2014

Not everyone tickled pink about Holi One Colour Festival

Prinesha Naidoo | 04 March, 2013 11:27
Revellers are covered in coloured cornflour powder as they take part in the Holi One festival in Cape Town, March 2, 2013. The event is inspired by the Hindu Holi spring festival of colour which originated in India. Picture taken March 2, 2013.
Image by: Mark Wessels / REUTERS

Holika Dahan or Holi, an age-old Hindu festival of colour, is being celebrated in a less traditional manner for the first time in South Africa. But not everyone approves.

According to Ashwin Trikamjee, President of the South African Hindu Maha Saba, Holi “is a day…when people unite…embrace and celebrate as equals”. He explained that in South Africa, much emphasis is placed on prayer during Holi with devotees worshiping Ganesh-Gauri, Kalash and Shri Krishna, usually at temples.

Trikmajee said this deity worship is followed by hawan, a ritual in which offerings are made into a consecrated fire to invoke the blessings of god, and devotees then smear coloured powders on each other.  

But this year, Hindus and non-Hindus alike, in Cape Town and Johannesburg, have been offered a commercialised and different version of the festival, in the form of the Holi One Colour Festival which made its first appearance in Germany last year.

South Africa’s first Holi One Colour Festival which took take place at the Grand Parade in Cape Town on  Saturday, March 2, attracted 10, 000 people.

But Trikamjee has condemned the commercial version, saying that “the commercialisation for personal profit [or] gain of any deeply religious occasion cannot be encouraged and must not be supported”.  

However, Brian Little, Managing Director of Seed Experiences, the company responsible for bringing the  Holi One Colour Festival to South Africa says it is not linked to the Hindu festival but “is inspired by it and shares the values….of bringing people together in love and peace”.

The Johannesburg festival will take place on 6 April at Emmarentia Dam.

The festival was promoted through social media and built up a fan base of more than 25 000 fans  before the first festival even got underway.

Little says “given the enthusiasm and hype around the event we are confident that the Holi One Colour Festival will become one of the country’s biggest and most differentiated annual events”.

The actual Holi day according to the Hindu calendar falls on March 27 this year.

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