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Holi in London 2011 – Between the Local Celebration and the Outdoors

Published on: Tuesday, 22nd March 2011 14:13 PM     By      Amani

Holi 2011 – Between the local celebration and the outdoors

By Amani Fairak

This was my first Holi, and I was eager to attend for a long time. Holi was a full-moon night where Hindus around London celebrate the end of winter to mark the start of spring, with colours and joy.

Part one: On 19th March 2011, I have attended the local celebration of Shree Kutch Leva Patel Community Centre, where they start the festive day late afternoon. Men, women and their children throw powder colours at each other, cheering ‘Happy Holi, …Happy Holi’. There were at least 200 people including senior and children colouring each other at the open backyard of SKLPC Centre.

At 6 o’clock, people gathered in a big circle around a pile of wood, and the Maharaj started the religious ceremony with the Universal Prayer ‘Om Jai Jagdish Hari’. The Maharaj poured oil over the pile of wood, and lit it up in fire. Coconuts and popcorn Prasad also followed. Devotees made their four-circle journey around the fire, and share Prasad with each other.

The ceremony later on was followed by indoor prayers and chanting in the name of Swaminarayan, the Hindu figure followed by the Gujarati majority in North West London.

Visitors and attendees soon after changed to their evening outfits to join Disco Dandiya party, which was the highlight of the event. Dhol players and a bollywood band were performing all night. Lady visitors were dancing Dandiya in a big circle, then to the Bhangra and Bollywood beats.

This Holi event was a local Gujarati celebration that took place in Northolt.

Part two: On 20th March 2011, a big celebration of Holi hosted in Twickenham, West London. The event was supported by the local council and took place at Orleans House Gallery, Open Park. In a beautiful sunny warm day, started at 1:00 o’clock with a welcome note from the organisers, there were around at least 1000 visitors from different age groups, religions and nationalities. Powder colours were given for free. Food stalls and drinks were available for purchase throughout the event.

The programme line-up included a Bhangra workshop by a renowned Bhangra and Bollywood choreographer, and professional performers and bands. The audience also took part on stage on mini contest for Best Performer selected by the audience crowd itself.

For personal blog on the event, please click here

(Report by Amani Fairak - on Panel AsiansInUK)