What Holi means to me, more than just a riot of colours

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Michelle Rowland, MP

The festival of Holi is known throughout the Indian subcontinent and across the diaspora for its scenes of rich colours, warm fires and festive parades until the day of Rangpanchmi.

From New Delhi to Sydney, communities across the world have embraced these vibrant celebrations, where people can come together, painting themselves with a rainbow of powders, and throwing scented water (gulal).

But Holi, also known as the ‘Festival of Colours’ and the ‘Festival of Spring’ has much to teach us about the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, and the perpetual power of kindness.

The cautionary story of Prahlad, Hiranyakashipu, Lord Vishnu and Holika, from whom ‘Holi’ derives its name, conveys an imperative message — those who are dedicated to the cause of faith and kindness will be protected and celebrated.

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Indeed, when Holika attempted to use her powers for evil, she became incapable of withstanding the fire and she became weak. In contrast, Prahlada was protected, due to her faith in Lord Vishnu and her kindness.

We see this theme in the symbolic celebrations of Holi, where celebrants throw sticks, twigs and dried leaves into pyres, emblematic of the strength of light and goodness over darkness and evil.

The Hindu diaspora here in Australia surely embraces this teaching in their every day practices and service to community.  During the darkest of times, and in times of prosperity, the Hindu diaspora has demonstrated kindness and generosity in the name of their faith.

The Hindu Council of Australia’s Benevolent Fund is one prime example of this. Their fundraising to aid domestic violence victims, families struggling with unexpected expenses and victims of natural disasters – to name just a few – are evident of the Hindu community’s embodiment of this teaching. Hindu communities worldwide remain selflessly devoted to faith and kindness.

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As the Hindu Council says, “Benevolence is the desire to help someone, can be an act of kindness or a gesture of goodwill toward others.”

This year in 2022, as we prepare the Holika pyre, dance and sing on the day of Holika Dahan, eat Gujiya and khoya at the special feast, and come together with friends and family, it is vital to reflect on the power of faith and kindness; in bringing people together, in maintaining ancient traditions and in alleviating suffering for our community’s  most vulnerable.

I wish those in the Hindu diaspora, including those right here in Greenway, a happy, cheerful and vibrant Holi!