Holi events: the Hindu ritual given a colourful new lease of life

'It’s so friendly and so open that it’s like a feeling  of Woodstock'

A religious festival dating back thousands of years is inspiring a new generation of clubbers and festivalgoers to use clouds of paint powder to turn each other into human rainbows.

The growing popularity of mass “paint fights” – at events where people hurl bags of brightly coloured powder over each other – is inspired by the Hindu religious festival of Holi. Vivid shades of red, yellow, pink, green and magenta are typically used by Hindus to celebrate the victory of the spring over the winter.

Although Holi events take place each March within Hindu communities around the world, the idea of throwing paint powder around has moved away from a religious context and into the mainstream. A paint-throwing session was one of the highlights of the Secret Garden Party festival in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, last weekend. And last month 15,000 people took part in a 5km fun run in London in which they were covered in powdered paint with each passing kilometre.

Tens of thousands of Britons will flock to more Holi-themed festivals in London and Manchester over the summer. Saturday will see around 15,000 people flock to Battersea Power Station, London, for the Holi One festival, followed by another event at the same venue next weekend. And 10,000 are expected to attend an event at Heaton Park, Manchester, later this month.

Holi One says it is not a religious event, but is about “promoting the ideas of togetherness and the colour of everyday life”.

Organisers say part of the attraction of covering each other in paint powder is that it removes the normal barriers of appearance – with everyone feeling more relaxed as a result.

It’s a lucrative business, with an all-day pass including five bags of paint powder costing £38. Stephan Dau, from Holi One Production UG, admits the festival is “a commercial event” but claims part of its success is creating an atmosphere where people feel equal. “It’s so friendly, the event, and so open that it’s like a feeling of Woodstock,” he said.

Next weekend’s Battersea event, the Holi Festival of Colours London, will see Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke perform as a DJ.

“It is clear that there is a great interest for this festival in the UK. The first date was sold out so fast that we decided to organise a second date, which has now sold out as well,” said Marius Hering, from Holi Concept GmbH, the organisers of the event.

The idea of promoting music events with a Holi paint-throwing element was developed by German entrepreneur Jasper Hellmann last year, after a trip to India when he witnessed a traditional Holi celebration.

Britain’s Hindu community welcomes the trend. Swaminathan Vaidyanathan, the secretary-general of the Hindu Forum of Britain, said: “We are not particularly concerned if people want to have some fun time and enjoy as Hindu tradition always stands for universal happiness.”

But associating Holi with events organised at any time of the year “degrades the importance” of a festival which should take place only on full-moon day in March, claimed Jaswant Maicha, the chair of the Adhya Shakti Mataji Temple in Uxbridge, London.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'