My First Holi Festival

My First Holi Festival

POV: A Yorkshireman At Holi

As a relatively uncultured Yorkshireman, I had no idea what to expect when I was stationed to work at the UK’s largest Holi Festival at Beaver Works in Leeds. Now most festivals I have attended in the past have a 'no mess’ policy, but not this one! At Holi you are encouraged to make as much mess as possible with safe and natural powders that come in 7 vibrant colours. Celebrating my first Holi festival was an exciting and colorful experience filled with joy and tradition. One that will be remembered forever. I soon found out that Holi was more than just a party, it’s a time for friends and family to forget differences and come together in a spirit of unity and love.


Holi, also known as the festival of colors, is a Hindu festival originally celebrated in India but now celebrated all over the world. It marks the arrival of spring and signifies the victory of good over evil in Hindu mythology. During Holi, people come together to play with vibrant colored powders, known as gulal, creating a beautiful kaleidoscope of hues. Each colour at Holi represents something different:
  • Red symbolises love and passion and is the most beloved color during Holi.
  • Yellow is the sacred colour of India.
  • Blue is a symbol of courage, love, calm, and serenity.
  • Green holds the essence of energy, new beginnings, harvest, and hope in Hindu culture.
  • Pink is a favorite colour for girls and women, and it is seen as the most attractive and energetic color.
  • In Hinduism, the colour orange symbolises the sacral chakra, the energy center related to sexuality and self-awareness.
  • Purple is always connected to royalty, wealth, and power in India.
Seeing so many faces light up as we handed out each of these colours was an emotionally charging sensation.

As I immersed myself in the lively atmosphere, I soon found myself dancing the day away to some incredible live Bhangra music by artists such as JAZ DHAMI. Now as a Hip-Hop enthusiast, I never thought that I could enjoy Indian music that is so culturally different to my own. Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong! I found many similarities between Bangra and Hip-Hop as the loud Boom-Bappy drums kept my head nodding at maximum velocity. I then got to enjoy the company of strangers who continued to rub colour powder onto my cheeks as a sign of endearment. The spirit of togetherness and happiness that Holi embodies was a real eye opener and for the first time in a long time, I felt truly free!

Thankfully, I was prewarned to join in the festivities by wearing budget sunglasses to protect my eyes, and old garments that I didn't mind getting stained with colours. Lucky, I also managed to narrowly avoid wearing the Sequin Rainbow Skirt I was told all first-time Ministry of Colours employees must wear... I did settle with a Leis, however. I instantly saw that Holi is a time to let go of inhibitions and within the first few minutes of opening, I was covered from head to toe in colours. Mostly purple, which must have been a mistake as my attributes don’t tend to signify royalty, wealth and power. I then got to tuck into some traditional sweets like gujiyas and thandai that are also enjoyed during this festive occasion. These delicious treats will certainly be making their way onto my shopping list in the near future.

As a first-time participant in the Holi festival, I have been blessed with a whole new perspective on what this day means for so many. Holi isn't an event, it’s a feeling. Words can’t describe how much I enjoyed dipping my toes into another culture, one that welcomed me with open arms, and getting to experience this beautiful festival of colours. Regardless of your cultural background or religious beliefs, I would highly recommend this occasion to anyone, and I can’t wait to re-live the excitement next year!