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Holi Mahotsav 2015 – Annual Indian Gem in Sydney's Darling Harbour


Belly dancers; surprisingly they were all white women.
Belly dancers at the Holi Mahotsav 2015.

There’s never a dull moment along Sydney’s shorelines. They’re riddled with things to do – if you can afford the admission fees some attractions require. Darling Harbour is the home of Sydney’s maritime white and blue with museums, cruises and aquariums.
However the 28th and 29th of March displayed a different assortment of colour, one that wasn’t limited to white and blue. In fact there wasn’t a colour you couldn’t find. Holi Mahotsav is a festival of colour, and like colour it represents the diversity of race, culture, religion and caste. Boasting its 13th year in Sydney, the Indian festival Holi Mahostav has opened every year in March or April since it began in August 2003, after the opening of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (House of Indian Knowledge/Wisdom) Australia.
“This is no longer about religion anymore as religion has become more part of culture,” says Nav, a promoter of a Hindu spiritualism, wearing an orange garb and carrying a book about Krishna. “We are a festival of peace and harmony but also colour and dancing. There’s plenty to eat, plenty to enjoy.”
Indian foods were Indian but the sugarcane drinks were something else.
Indian foods were Indian but the sugarcane drinks were something else.

Stalls of delicious Indian foods, sugar cane drinks, fortune telling, temples and yoga laced Tumbalong Park. The central areas were housed the audience for hundreds of artists that stood on stage ranging from Indian classics such as belly dancing and Punjabi songs, to hip-hop dance groups and folk music. With food, music and dancing, the wanderers of the harbour began massing within the precinct, lining up at the stalls, participating in demonstrations and clapping to traditional songs.
The festivities weren’t confined to the park at Rath Yatra – or simply a street parade – three decorated chariots full of colour and trails of followers marched around Martin Place drawing more people in from the outskirts.
Celebrating "colour" literally. (Was told they were harmless but afterwards even without participating there were coughing; you were warned)
Celebrating “colour” literally (Was told they were harmless but afterwards, even without participating, there were people coughing. You were warned).

Of course festivities of colour aren’t complete without unique highlights. Lightly caged areas were cordoned off where the celebration of colour becomes literal for patrons willing to buy a bag of “colour” to be thrown and rubbed into each other. This is one of the festivals unique sessions that demonstrate the shedding of boundaries between friends and strangers, race and religion as they mercilessly colour each other until they run out.
The best part is, there are no admission fees for enjoying and observing the performances. However, fees apply to foods and “colour” throwing sessions.
The next Holi Mahotsav will come 19 – 20th of March 2016.

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