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A festival known for being a celebration of love, compassion, friendship and colour, this year’s Blacktown Holi mela did not disappoint
With up to 10,000 people attending over two days, the Holi Festival of Colours at Blacktown was a large-scale outdoor event.
“The highlight for me was seeing multiculturalism in action,” said organiser Bikram Cheema. “The whole community came together at this event.”
After the success of the Festival of Colours Blacktown 2015, organisers decided to hold a second Holi event for 2016, one designed to target a wider Australian market. The inaugural Colorfest was due to be held at Castle Hill Showgrounds in late February, but after some last minute issues with Council approvals, the event had to be rescheduled for the Saturday preceding the Blacktown event.
Cheema confirmed the Saturday event featured more of a western crowd while the Sunday event had a wider variety of revellers.
As a hub of multiculturalism, Blacktown proved to be a perfect venue for all attendees across the two days, particularly after the cancellation of the annual Darling Harbour Holi event.
Featuring the usual variety of international food stalls, market stalls and children’s amusement rides, the diverse entertainment program across the two days proved a winner.
Dancing among plumes of vibrant colours in the sunshine while live DJs spun tunes added a feeling of being at a summer music festival.
With contemporary music pumping, anecdotally, it was a younger crowd with many attending with groups of friends or young families bringing along the kids. On stage entertainment on the Sunday was more traditional and included the Rhythm Boys Bhangra, Holiya Dance Academy, CK Performing Arts and Viraasat Folk Academy among others who strutted their stuff with boundless enthusiasm, befitting the festive spirit of the occasion.
The carnival of colours continued across the weekend and participants played, chased and threw coloured powder at each other with abandon celebrating the masti of life.
However, stall owners lamented a lack of engagement as people were too busy having fun to avail of their services.
Local politicians and dignitaries graced the event appearing in various hues of gulal including federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Member for Greenway Michelle Rowland, State Member for Blacktown John Robertson and the Mayor of Blacktown City Council Stephen Bali.
The festival of Holi was named after the evil demon Holika, who burnt to death in a bonfire, but its significance has changed over thousands of years. The festival coincides with the arrival of spring and the beginning of the harvest season in India.