Tuesday, 2 March 2010


This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Huge Hindu festival draws 5,000 crowd to Leicester park
A crowd of up to 5,000 people celebrated the Hindu festival of Holi by cooking coconuts and painting each other's faces.
People from across the city and beyond travelled to Spinney Hill Park, in Leicester, for the event on Sunday night, which included a giant bonfire.
Revellers brought coconuts to cook in the flames and decorated each other in red paint.
The night was organised by the committee at the Hindu Temple, in nearby St Barnabas Road.
Committee member and assistant treasurer Nishil Karia said: "We had a fantastic event. We built a big bonfire and cooked people's coconuts in the fire.
"It's always a very happy event and we were delighted with the turnout. There were nearly 5,000 people there and several of them said it was about the biggest Holi event we've had in the city.
"The local community really appreciates this event and we also had people from Nottingham and Coventry.
"People threw powdered paint around and some of the younger ones were splashing each other with liquid paint.''
The paint, which people traditionally decorate each other with before embracing three times, symbolises the colours and joys of spring.
Chhaganlal Joshi, a priest at the temple in St Barnabas Road, said: "The colours of the festival – the clothes and the paint – represent the coming of spring and the children becoming happier and healthier.
"It's the fourth-largest festival in the Hindu calendar and it has been celebrated for several thousand years," he added.
Among the guests of honour were the deputy Lord Mayor, Manjula Sood, and Chris Eyre, the Temporary Chief Constable of Leicestershire.
There are more than 40,000 Hindus in Leicestershire and they share the celebration, also known as the Festival of Colours, with Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains.
Indian populations around the world celebrate the festival and celebrations last up to 16 days.
Other Holi events were held at Stoughton Road playing fields, in Oadby, and at Cossington Recreation Ground, in Belgrave.

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