House of Assembly: Thursday, March 09, 2023


Holi Festival

Ms WORTLEY (Torrens) (15:21): The electorate of Torrens has a significant multicultural community and, as the member for Torrens, I am delighted to often be invited to join in the celebrations of these communities. Recently, one of my residents opened up a new restaurant on North East Road, Chennai Palace, a sister restaurant to Chennai Palace on Stephen Terrace, Walkerville. I would just like to congratulate Poongadi and Vasunth on their new business, and wish them every success going forward.

This time of year many members of the South Australian Indian and Nepalese community celebrate the Holi Festival, also fondly known as the Festival of Colours. Over the years, I have attended many Holi Festivals. I recall the first one where I was covered in colour from head to toe. Nobody had given me a tip about what to wear to that particular one, and I have photos as testament to that experience, and in the next few days my clothes remained soaking in Napisan to try to remove the colour. The powder is made from cornflour and it originally started off with one colour, red, but it has now progressed during Holi Festivals to be multicolours.

It is important to learn from experience—and I certainly learnt from my first Holi Festival—so now each year when I attend the festivals, I wear white which makes it so much easier to remove the colour that the revellers take so much pleasure in sharing with us. Last weekend, dressed in white, I had the pleasure of attending the Holi Festival Adelaide 2023, organised by Adelaide Nepal Inc. Hundreds of people attended throughout the day and not even the intermittent rain and wind—of which there was much—could keep away our Nepalese community. The day was enjoyed by young and old with Nepalese food on offer, along with traditional dance, music and song, as well as on-stage entertainers and, of course, lots of colour.

In India, the Holi Festival is celebrated on the last full moon in the lunar month of fargoon. Originally celebrated mainly in North India, today it is celebrated internationally by many members of the Indian and Nepalese community. This ancient tradition marks the end of winter and it honours the triumph of love over hate. Celebrants light bonfires and throw colourful powder called goolal, they eat sweets and dance to traditional music. At night, ground nuts and popcorn are offered to the bonfire. It is a really special occasion for a newborn and also for newlyweds.

From the very young to the very old, this celebration carries over two days. It begins with the bonfire and then on the following day with the colour and water balloons. It is celebrated as a public holiday in India. I know our South Australian Indians miss the time that they celebrate Holi. The festival has a cultural significance among Hindu traditions of the Indian subcontinent. It is the festive day to end and rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts, a day to forgive and to forget, to renew broken relationships and to pay or forgive debts.

It also marks the start of spring, an occasion for people to enjoy the changing seasons and to make new friends. It is a playful cultural event and an excuse to throw coloured water at friends or strangers in jest. Celebrated at the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month marking the spring, makes the date vary with the lunar cycle, so in some years it falls in March and in others it falls in February.

Historically, Holi has been commemorated to celebrate agriculture, good spring harvests and also the fertile lands. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring's abundant colours and, of course, saying farewell to winter. I am looking forward to this Saturday 11 March, attending Holi on the Beach on the Semaphore foreshore, where from experience I know there will be colour, music, dancing and Indian food stalls. Based on recent festivals, it will be widely attended by the Indian, Nepalese and wider South Australian community that has embraced this fun-filled festival, with larger attendances each year.

This is the seventh festival organised by the Indian Australian Arts and Cultural Association, who state it is the festival that helps bring society together. Significantly for Holi, one is not to get angry or offended, so for those planning to attend the Holi on the Beach Festival at Semaphore foreshore this weekend, be prepared: wear white (it is easier to clean), and be prepared to be covered in colour, to have fun dancing the afternoon away to Indian Bollywood music and enjoy the curries and mouth-watering desserts and all that go with them.