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Happy Holi!

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29 March 2013

Korowiri Village, Labasa, Fiji

While the world I’m familiar with conducts solemn Good Friday activities celebrating the passion of Christ in quiet contemplation, another world celebrates a new year the Hindi way, with the festival of colours! Happy Holi!

Yogi gets his first Holi colours!Yogi gets his first Holi colours!

We had a free day on Good Friday (which in Fiji is called Easter Friday) as the staff of WWF all went back to their villages to be with their families and loved ones to have a quiet prayerful non-working day. The streets were empty and thought hmm, what should we do today. We asked our hotel security guard, Satish Chand, if he had seen anyone carrying a big cross walking towards the Catholic church from where he was sitting, as he was facing the main street. He said no. Yogi had been photographing the fish market the day before while I wrote my first blog in Fiji and he had excitedly told me there was Holi happening inside the market where colourful powders were poured on some of the Hindi men and women and it was great fun with the beating of the drums. I missed this event and while asking Satish about it, he said TODAY is the Holi Day! When he saw our keen interest, he called his friends and family in Korowiri Village and arranged for us to be with them on this Holi day celebrated once a year.

A little history we learned from the villagers of Korowiri – they are third and fourth generation Indians and many of them have never been to India. In 1872, the British brought into Fiji a population of workers from India to work in the sugar cane farms. In April 1970, a constitutional conference in London agreed that Fiji should become a fully sovereign and independent nation within the Commonwealth of Nations. Fiji became independent on 10 October 1970.

Well what a day this day turned out to be. Holi is the annual Hindu New Year Festival. Satish said it is the day you put the past year behind you, clean your heart and be friends again with your enemies.  We reached Korowiri Venau Village by 11am and the community Holi celebration was in full swing.

Holi in temple. Men performed ritual chants, beat drums and small brass cymbals.Holi in temple. Men performed ritual chants, beat drums and small brass cymbals.

Our first stop was the Korowiri Temple where we were asked to clean our legs before entering the temple. The men were on one side and women on another. We were told that every fortnight Friday, the gents gathered together to perform their temple celebrations alternating with women the next Friday.

The men performed their chants loudly with assigned men drumming and others clanging their tiny brass cymbals. The men performed their chants loudly with assigned men drumming and others clanging their tiny brass cymbals. Interesting Hindu faces. A whole new celebration the Freunds were so very honoured to participate in.A whole new celebration the Freunds were so very honoured to participate in. Drum beating never looked so good!Drum beating never looked so good!

It was incredible! After the a whole performance, we all stepped out into the open and another chanting, drumming and small cymbals started. Then the colours exploded.

They threw colored powder at each other and celebrate wildly.They threw colored powder at each other and celebrate wildly.  Colours from violet, pink, blue, yellow and white powder were poured onto everybody's neck, head and faces. Colours from violet, pink, blue, yellow and white powder were poured onto everybody’s necks, heads and faces. Stella getting a yellow face!Stella getting a yellow face! The festival of colours mark the beginning of harvesting of the summer crop.The festival of colours mark the beginning of harvesting of the summer crop. No exemptions to visiting tourists! The teenagers had the most fun.No exemptions to visiting tourists! The teenagers had the most fun.

This was our very first time to experience such an event and everybody greeted each renewed coloured person with Happy Holi a handshake and an embrace. Then it was off to the next house. The temple is composed of 14 families and all 14 homes were going to be visited. After each round of chanting and performance in the house, a small feast of sweets were passed around. When we arrived at 11am, the community had finished 5 homes. We were invited to the community temple plus 9 houses.

Indian sweets with chai.Indian sweets with chai. I gathered the names of all the sweets we had I gathered the names of all the sweets we had.

We had Halua made of semolina. Ladu made of powdered dhal. Nimkis made of flour. Boiled peas. Fried peas. Bara made of dhal. Bagia made of dhal. Gulgula made of pumpkin and flour. Murku made of rice flour and powdered dhal. Barfi made of milk powder and sugar. Marshmallows made of sufi, semolina, milk powder & sugar covered with desiccated coconut. Onion Pakola made of powdered dhal, salt baking powder, garlic and chill. And all these sweets were washed down by wonderful Chai. We tried to say goodbye twice after the ninth and twelfth house but were not allowed to leave. We were in for Happy Holi until all houses were visited!  Needless to say, we were truly colourful by the time we got back to the hotel in Labasa!

Lovely time for getting to know one another's cultures.Lovely time for getting to know one another’s cultures. We made fast friends who demanded we return next year!We made fast friends who demanded we return next year!

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Comments


  • http://www.facebook.com/seini.tawakelevu Seini Tawakelevu

    Truly colourful alright! 🙂 Beautiful images, Yogi and Stella. Thanks for sharing..

  • http://twitter.com/acinomletap Monica Patel

    Beautiful story, livened by beautifully captured moments, of the lives not often documented on mass. Well done again to the Freund’s and thank you to Satish’s family for showing hospitality, warmth and the many different colours that constitute our islands.

  • Marine_Iguana

    Great story – Full of colour!