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The Hindu Spring Festival Holi is celebrated in February or March in honour of the Hindu God Krishna. Widely celebrated in India, Nepal, Pakistan and other countries with a large Indian population who follow Hinduism, Holi is celebrated with colour, water and the exchange of sweets.

Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika Dahan where people gather to perform religious rituals in front of the bonfire and pray for evil to be taken away.

The next morning is celebrated as Holi: a free-for-all festival of colours!

Everyone joins in; friends and strangers, rich and poor, children and elders. The festival of colours takes place in the open streets, in parks and outside temples.

Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, travelling from place to place, singing and dancing.

In the evening, people dress up, visit family and friends, laugh and chat, then share the special Holi food and drink.

Interesting facts about Holi

  • Holi is celebrated on the last full moon in the lunar month of Phalguna.
  • The celebration of Holi usually lasts for two days, with Holika Dahan (Holi Bonfire) and a day of throwing colours on each other being its highlights.
  • Each colour also carries a meaning:
    • Red symbolises love and fertility;
    • Yellow is the color of turmeric - a powder native to India and used as a natural remedy;
    • Blue represents the Hindu God Krishna;
    • Green is for new beginnings.
  • The festival of Holi signifies the victory of good over evil. It also marks the end of winter season and welcomes the spring.

Activities for children with vision impairment

Holi hands

Draw an outline of a hand on some coloured card. Carefully cut this out, ready to decorate (some children may need a little assistance with this).

Use Blu Tack to secure the handprint to a piece of unfolded newspaper, or any surface that can get messy!

Top tip: make sure that the handprint has a good contrast against the surface so that your child can easily see or feel it.

Decorate your Holi Hand. You can make creative patterns and details using scented or brightly coloured markers, glitter glue or puffy paint.

Think of the different ways to decorate your Holi Hand.

Perhaps you could blow paint using a straw, flick paint with a paint brush, spatula or with your hands or even try fingerpainting.

For very young children, or those who don’t like the sensation of touching paint, pop your Holi Hand into a zip lock bag with a few splodges of paint. Encourage your child to squeeze or roll the bag around to decorate their Holi Hand!

Multi-sensory rainbow

Talking about colour to a child who is blind or partially sighted can be daunting, but did you know that colour can be expressed and interpreted through more senses than sight alone?

You could go on a sensory adventure with your family and try and match colour names to familiar items with a particular taste, smell, texture or sound. For example:

  • Red = the taste of strawberries.
  • Yellow = the feeling of warmth.
  • Pink = the feeling of love.
  • Green = the smell of fresh cut grass.
  • Purple = the taste of blackcurrant juice.
  • Orange = the smell of a freshly peeled orange or the crackling sound of a fire.
  • Blue = the sound of crashing waves or the feeling of being immersed in water.

It is important to remember that children perceive colours differently and that there is no right or wrong way to experience this.

Books about Holi and colour

There are many books which explore colour – both from the perspective of someone who is visually impaired and from the perspective of someone who is not. Here are some examples to get you started:

  • The Black Book of Colours by Menena Cottin and illustrated by Rosana Faria
  • Festival of Colours by Kabir Sehgal and Surishtha Sehgal. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison
  • Let's Celebrate Holi! (Maya and Neel's India Adventure Series, Book 3): Volume 3 by Ajanta Chakraborty, Vivek Kumar

We would love parents and carers to share their thoughts and feedback on these activities via our Parents and Carers Facebook Group. Let us know your family's favourite traditions and how you celebrate!

If you would like to see a particular celebration included here, email us.