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26 March 2021

Taking place across Sunday 28th and Monday 29th March is Holi, a Hindu Festival celebrated around the world. Signifying the triumph of good over evil and the celebration of divine love, this festival brings together families and friends to rejoice, end conflicts and rebuild broken relationships.

To tell us more, we hear from Sonia in our IT Architecture department and Rajvi who works in our Compliance team...

How is the festival celebrated?

Sonia: Celebrations start on the night before Holi, as a bonfire night where ritually people from the community gather to pray for the inner evils to be destroyed and celebrate the arrival of spring and the end of winter. The next morning people celebrate Holi by covering themselves in colours. All houses, streets and parks turn into colour spectacles! Music is everywhere, people meet families, friends and foes, colour each other and share Holi delicacies, food and drink. Later in the evening, people get cleaned-up, dressed in new clothes and re-visit friends and families.

Tell us more about Holi parties.

Rajvi: Communities, families and friends get together and eat Indian sweets, sing, dance and party! The really fun part is that they throw coloured powders at each other (think bold and bright Camelot colours!). Some even go to the extremes of filling water guns with coloured water and paints.

Are celebrations different depending on the country?

Sonia: You can say yes, and no. Yes - because the scale of celebration outside the country of origin is definitely going to be smaller. No - because the celebrations are arranged by people who know what the festival is about and they bring the spirit and authenticity to the celebration. Though, controversially, Europe has started to celebrate Holi as a festival of colour in Summer. It looks like Holi.

Where can you go to celebrate Holi?

Rajvi: People celebrate this wonderful festival across the world, but it’s celebrated here in the UK too! Because life is a little different this year, why not order some coloured powders and celebrate Holi in your back garden with your kids? It’s a fun activity for the family to enjoy and get great photos out of, but be prepared for the messy aftermath!

Tell us about your introduction to Holi festival in England.

Sonia: My initial introduction to Holi in the UK was an event in Twickenham, where people were throwing colours at each other and dancing to the music. There were food stalls which got emptied really quickly. I bought colours from one of the stalls and played Holi with my friends who came along to the celebration with me. I had a good time. Then, we started our own celebrations by grouping together at a friend's house. We prepared traditional Holi delicacies beforehand and brought them to the get-together where we played with colours, danced to music and shared food. Though, I still prefer to go to India to celebrate Holi with my family as I have a large family and everyone comes together to celebrate Holi. Here are some photos of me celebrating…

Any tips for attending a Holi party?

Rajvi: If you ever get an opportunity to go to a Holi party (hint hint) then my tips would be:

1. Wear white clothes (including your trainers) - Trust me, you will be on your feet but keeping it white makes the mixture of colours look awesome.

2. Keep clean towels accessible and loads of baby wipes - the colour doesn’t come off your clothes fully until they’ve had a few goes in the washing machine (if you're lucky).

3. Don’t be surprised if colour is still coming off of you in the shower after 3 days - it miraculously gets into places you can’t imagine.

4. Don’t even get me started on how many cleans your bathroom will need after you’ve been for a shower - stock up on the bleach!

5. Don’t forget to take lots of photos!

Finally, can you share any interesting facts about Holi festival?

Sonia: Traditionally, we used to wear the clothes we want to discard to play Holi. Now, most people buy new white clothes to wear as the colours look more vivid on white. We also oil/cream our body and hair before starting to play with colours as it makes it easier to take off the colour afterwards, especially when celebrating in India.

Rajvi: Holi is such a fun festival that a lot of Bollywood films and Indian serials set their scenes around it. Nowadays it's even become trendy to do a Holi style photoshoot with your partner or family to display on your wedding day or in your home.