Holi Around the World
Holi – the festival of colors is celebrated not only in India but across the world where Indian origin people live. Holi is the celebration of goodwill has evolved into a worldwide celebration, with people from different countries participating in celebrations too.
The spirit of Holi is to forget your differences and shrug off inhibitions. It’s about having fun together. Revellers pelt each other with rainbow-hued gulal powder, throw water balloons and tote water pistols. For a few days, the festival closes the social gap between rich and poor, all are equal and free to embrace each other and wish themselves Happy Holi for a few hours a year.
‘Holi’ is fast becoming a global festival. With the number of countries each year celebrating Holi and the scale becoming larger, the meaning and significance are somewhat lost. This amazing festival of colors has a deeper meaning and a significance that is important to be understood.
This Hindu festival marks the onset of Spring and one of the major festival of India and also abroad for Hindus. The word Holi comes from the word “hola” which means to offer prayers to the gods for good harvest. It is celebrated over two days and marks the celebration of fertility, colour, love and the triumph of good over evil.
From the USA to Australia, you can find Holi celebration been held at various locations and Holi colors and dishes can be easily found in various supermarkets. There are Holi parades that happen in various cities around the world. The celebrations are a little modified in other parts of the world. With colour runs, marathons, colour music festivals lasting for over days, and Bollywood themed celebrations, Holi sees the light of different colours each year. The ancient Hindu festival has now become very popular and is also celebrated by the Indian diaspora and non-Hindus across the world.
Holi celebrations in other countries
Outside India, Holi is observed by the minority Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan as well in countries with large Indian subcontinent diaspora populations such as Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mauritius, and Fiji. The Holi rituals and customs outside South Asia also vary with local adaptations.
The United Kingdom
With over 1.4 million of Indians residing in UK Holi festival is celebrated by residents. Zeal for the festival is particularly marked in this country as Indians constitute the second largest ethnic minority. It is among list of countries celebrating Festival of colors around the world. The celebration of Holi is noticeable at places that witness a large congregation of Indians.
The United States of America
The United States of America has always been renowned for its cultural diversity and it is certainly one of the countries that celebrate the festival of colors. You will find smaller festivals in every major city including Los Angeles, New York, New Jersey, and Chicago. They also arrange music programs and Holi Meets to celebrate the occasion. These meets help the new generation to identify with their cultural root.
In Canada there are high number of Indian communities, so you will find various Holi events organized, with a major color play, and music festival, in Niagara Park.
Several festivals are held in Australia where people will experiment with non-toxic colors. The Holi Tradition here in Australia is an occasion for Australians to expand their knowledge of the Hindu faith, which is a way of embracing the season of spring and bidding goodbye to the winters’ gloom.
In Malaysia too, Holi is celebrated in the midst of its quintessential cultural diversity. There are a bunch of Holi parties in Kuala Lumpur that have already started the ‘no water and only organic colors’ concept and yet there as fun as you thought them to be.
Mauritius, being a Hindu republic, celebrates almost all festivals with the same intensity as India. People here have an excellent time and joke a lot during the festival. On the eve of Holi, Hindus observe Holika Dahan’s ritual, or the lighting of a bonfire, to commemorate good over evil triumph. The next day, people celebrate and play with colors, drenching all with water jets known as pichkaris. In the evening, they greet one another with tilak and share sweets.
Guyana, Surinam, Trinidad, and Tobago
Holi is known as “Phagwah” in this region, and it is celebrated with great pride and display. People from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar came to this land as contracted laborers in the nineteenth century, and it has since become a part of their community.
The vibrant Gujarati’s and other Indians settled in South Africa have made it a point to keep the tradition of celebrating Holi alive in the country. They play colors, light bonfires called Holika, sing Holi songs and make merry. The evenings are spent in meeting friends and relatives and exchanging greetings and sweets.
Fiji is a unique country because it observes all religious celebrations in their respective calendars. Holi is the least religious and most social of the Hindu holidays celebrated in Fiji, and on this day Hindus of all castes and classes engage in spraying colored powders and water, throwing parties, visiting relatives and exchanging sweets.
Festival of Holi is a week-long celebration in Nepal in which the entire country gets drenched in the colored water. Celebrations are of marked importance at Terai and also where Indian community mainly Marwaris have settled. Families and friends get together and celebrate the occasion with a lot of merry making.
Dubai don’t lag behind when it comes to celebrating festivals, places like the Wonderland Park, and Al Garhoud in Dubai, witness about thousands of visitors getting drenched in a myriad colours whether they are Hindus or Muslims.
Because of the prevalence of Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim traditions, the Bengal region has a multifaceted history. Even though Muslims predominate in the region, Hindus still celebrate their Holi traditions with zeal.
Hindus residing in Pakistan also celebrate Holi, though, of course, in not as grand a fashion as seen in India. People celebrate the victory of good over evil forces by lighting bonfires called Holika. The tradition comes from the legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakashyap. In fact, people follow the same traditions and rituals as in India due to their roots in India.