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Holi: Festival of Colour

To reflect upon the significance of the Hindu festival of Holi.

by Alan M. Barker

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To reflect upon the significance of the Hindu festival of Holi.

Preparation and materials

  • Holi is a springtime festival celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalunga (Indian National Calendar). This usually coincides with the month of March.
  • Obtain some suitable images of Holi celebrations by searching the Internet,
  • A class display of springtime splatter paintings or one large sheet-sized canvas.
  • The school community might be invited to mark Holi by wearing brightly coloured T-shirts.
  • Two readers for the legend of Holika and Prahlad.


  1. Display the spring splatter paintings. They express mood and energy.

    Invite the artists to talk about how they feel about their work. Observe that splatter painting is energetic and fun!
  2. Explain that Hindu communities, especially communities in northern India, mark springtime with the happy and colourful festival of Holi.

    The exact celebrations vary from place to place. However, everywhere the celebrations are filled with colour and fun.

    Display images of Holi to demonstrate how friends and families cover themselves and others (even strangers!), with brightly coloured dye. No one is upset because everyone understands that it is Holi, a time of happiness and celebration.
  3. At Holi, some recall the playfulness of the Krishna (the human form of the Hindu God Vishnu), who was very mischievous when he was young. It’s said that when tending his cows, Krishna threw coloured water over the gopis (the milkmaids).

    As we grow older it’s important that we learn to act responsibly. However, we also need to keep our sense of humour and to continue to enjoy play.
  4. Younger members of the school community might be reminded of the story of Elmer, a multi-coloured elephant who painted himself grey, but who couldn’t help but be true to himself. The story tells how Elmer’s friends decorated themselves to honour his sense of fun.

    Many faith celebrations are joyful. They celebrate positive actions and attitudes.
  5. If older children are present, reflect that Holi also celebrates the power of good to overcome evil.

    Retell the following legend of Holika and Prahlad, using two voices. Each time Reader 1 finishes speaking, the school community might be invited to hiss; each time Reader 2 finishes speaking, the school community might be invited to cheer.

    The legend of Holika and Prahlad

    Reader 1  Prahlad’s father was a king; he wanted everybody to worship him.

    Reader 2  That was a problem. Prahlad worshipped the Lord Vishnu. He refused to worship the king.

    Reader 1  So Prahlad’s father tried to kill him.

    Reader 2  But all his attempts failed.

    Reader 1  At last the king asked the help of his sister, Holika. Holika had been granted a gift. She could touch fire and not be burned! Holika invited Prahlad to sit on her lap in the middle of a bonfire! She believed that Prahlad would be burned to ashes!

    Reader 2  But because Holika was using her powers to harm others, the plan failed. She was eaten by the flames and Prahlad walked out of the fire unharmed!

    Reader 1  Evil,

    Reader 2  was overcome by good!6.  To remember this story, bonfires are lit on the night before Holi.

    Conclude by inviting the school community to consider how positive attitudes might help to create a bright and happy school day/Holi.

Time for reflection

What colour do you bring to enrich our school community today?

Is it the red of a brilliant idea

or the blue of some deep thinking?

Do you bring the yellow of laughter

or the orange of warm friendship?

Who will bring the green of generosity

and the purple of passionate care?

What will be the picture when our day is ended?


'Together’ (Songs for Every Assembly, Out of the Ark Music)
‘Lay my white cloak on the ground’ (Come and Praise, 112)

Publication date: March 2013   (Vol.15 No.3)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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