Holi, heritage and Happy New Year

two adults and four young girls in ther festival finery
Photo by Debjani Chatterjee

Story and photos by Debjani Chatterjee

Heritage project launch
2017 is ‘India-UK Year of Culture’ and the 70th year of Indian independence, so it is very apt that Sheffield Hindu Samaj is engaged in a Heritage Project. Titled ‘Spinning a yarn, weaving a story’, it focuses on cotton and its connection between the Indian sub-continent and UK.

Photo by Debjani Chatterjee
Photo by Debjani Chatterjee

In March the project was launched for children and parents at the Bal Gokulam group. I told the children a traditional
Bengali tale, about a magical old woman in the sky who turns cotton into clouds. The children will work on creating
a puppet show to retell the story.

The project was launched for adults by Dr Susanne Seymour of Nottingham University. We were shown slides about the historical cotton connection between the Indian sub-continent and UK, as well as the Gateway Visitor Centre in Derbyshire and its cotton workers mural, which we plan to visit along with Cheshire’s Quarry Bank Mill.

Storytelling, photography, research and discussion sessions, blogging, visits to cotton mills, cotton wall hangings and creative workshops are some possible activities for enjoyment and learning, that will also enable us to produce materials for display.

Holi festival
On Sunday 12th March Sheffield’s Hindus celebrated Holi, the joyous festival of colours that marks the beginning of Spring. Holi was celebrated as always by ‘Holika Dahan’, the traditional bonfire in which the demoness Holika is burnt, and playing with powder colours. The story of the demoness, who was thwarted in her attempt to kill the child Prahlad, is a famous story of good triumphing over evil. As befits a festival of merrymaking, the celebration was organized by young people.

Photo by Debjani Chatterjee
Photo by Debjani Chatterjee
Photo by Debjani Chatterjee
Photo by Debjani Chatterjee

Hindu New Year
The Hindu New Year was celebrated on Saturday 1st April. It is essentially a spring festival that marks the beginning
of Hindu calendars. According to the Vikram calendar, we have now entered the year 2074. Different Hindu communities celebrate New Year on slightly different dates and have different customs. We have different languages too and so give different names to this festival.