The Hindu Festival of Holi in Durban

Holi is a Hindu festival or celebration entailing a blend of colour and merrymaking and is also known as the festival of colours, and is celebrated annually in Durban. It is a time when both male and female, the young and old come together, to paint each other and have clean fun. The festival of Holi is celebrated in March the day after the full moon and is celebrated over two days. In Durban, Holi is celebrated one day and usually a Sunday. The celebration of Holi in Durban goes back to the arrival of the Indian indentured labourers who carried with them their traditions and cultures which was passed on from generation to generation.

The festival of Holi is celebrated at stadiums or temples in Durban and is more popular among the Hindi speaking community of the Indian population. The legends behind Holi are various but the uniqueness of Holi is the spirit of the celebration regardless of where it is celebrated, though historically originating in India. It marks the arrival of spring in India, hence a celebration of bright colours and good harvest for farmers that will follow.

Origin of Holi

The most common and popular legend is the story of King Kirayakashyap who wanted people to worship him, instead of God, and when his son disobeyed him, he demanded his son be killed. He made his evil sister who was named Holika, enter the fire with his son. The son survived the fire through prayers to his deity Lord Vishnu while the evil aunt Holika was burnt to death, hence Holi was a time to celebrate this victory of good over evil. The legend of Lord Krishna is also linked to the festival of Holi. Lord Krishna enjoys playing and applying colours on his loved ones especially his beloved Radha, hence Holi had the ideals of the triumph of good over evil and as well as the spreading of a sense of oneness and love with the people around us.

The rituals of Holi entails prayers to Lord Krishna at Krishna Temples, applying red colour to the deity and then on to family and friends. The devotees are dressed in white to show righteousness, and red colours to denote love and passion. In some rare instances like in India a bonfire is lit at night to burn old wood and leaves and people smear themselves with the ashes. In Durban these norms are restricted in certain places due to environmental complications. Durban people gather at the temple or stadium to perform their prayers and the fun begins when they start spraying each other with spray coloured powder and water. They sing and dance at the grounds, making merry. People come together and make peace with each other, forgiving and forgetting and accepting each other as one. Holi is a fun-filled festival entailing fun play, music and dance and a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. Holi burns self conceit, anger, hatred and ego and serves as the perfect time to forget conflicts against anyone and start afresh.

Yoveshine Pillay

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