Holi is the second most important festival of India after Deepawali festival. Observed since ancient times, Holi festival – a spring festival in India – glorifies good harvest and fertility of the land. This colourful festival, celebrated on a beautiful setting at Te Papaiouru Marae, Ohinemutu Village, gave a new meaning to race relations. It not only bridged any perceived social gaps and differences, but also brought people and communities together. Initially it was going to be part of building whakawhanaungatanga (Hindu-Maori relations) but has grown to be for a wider spectrum. People following different faiths enjoyed this festival.
In addition to Rotorua public, international visitors from Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, England, Canada and Brazil, and local visitors from Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, and Wellington also participated in the festival.
One of the international visitors from Sweden commented that he would keep the coloured T-shirt as a memoir of Rotorua and New Zealand. “It was good to see so many international visitors enjoying and having a good time in this festival. There is real potential for this festival to grow on a wider scale” said Dr Guna Magesan, General Secretary of Hindu Council of New Zealand and the festival coordinator.
The official festival started at 11.30 am with a powhiri (official Maori welcome) at the most sacred Marae of the Te Arawa people. This gathering was attended by the Te Arawa elders, local members of the community and visitors from other parts of New Zealand and the world. At this gathering, Kaumatua (Maori elder) Mr. Monty Morrison, welcomed the visitors. Mr. Morrison congratulated the volunteers for organising this festival and encouraged more Maori participation in such inter-cultural activities.
History of Holi
Holi is an ancient festival of India and was originally known as 'Holika'. The festivals finds a detailed description in early religious works such as Jaimini's Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Grhya-Sutras. Historians also believe that Holi was celebrated by all Aryans but more so in the Eastern part of India. It is said that Holi existed several centuries before Christ. However, the meaning of the festival is believed to have changed over the years. Earlier it was a special rite performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon (Raka) was worshiped. Calculating the Day of HoliThere are two ways of reckoning a lunar month- 'purnimanta' and 'amanta'. In the former, the first day starts after the full moon; and in the latter, after the new moon. Though the amanta reckoning is more common now, the purnimanta was very much in vogue in the earlier days. According to this purnimanta reckoning, Phalguna purnima was the last day of the year and the new year heralding the Vasanta-ritu (with spring starting from next day). Thus the full moon festival of Holika gradually became a festival of merrymaking, announcing the commencement of the spring season.