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Celebrations are an occasion for special festivities to mark some special event. They can be personal, for example, birthdays or weddings, or they can be an occasion shared by a religion, a nation or an ethnicity.

Holi - The Festival of Colours

Paint spraying from Holi festival

Image 'Holi Feest 2008' sourced from Flickr

On a recent visit to Cornwall Park in Auckland, I noticed a group of Indian men, women and children with splashes of paint all over them. How interesting I thought! I had never seen anything like this before.

Later that evening I was watching television and saw a news item that covered this celebration. It turns out that Holi is a Hindu spring festival, and is now celebrated by Hindus all over the world. The festival can last up to 16 days, but the main festival day is marked by people throwing coloured powder and coloured water over each other. It is celebrated at the end of the winter and marks the arrival of Spring. Holi is mostly about having fun with family and friends. The throwing of paint signifies throwing off the gloom of winter and bringing in the colour and liveliness of Spring.

I thought this celebration looked like a lot of fun. I looked up on the internet and found some activities I could do with my children. We made some brightly coloured Holi cards to send to our family who live in Australia. We also made up some powder paint and threw this on each other, and made some interesting paintings. One of the things I love about New Zealand is that we have so many cultures here, and new experiences open up to us as a result of this. My daughter talked with one of the Indian girls at her school about what we were doing around Holi, and was invited to join in some of the activities the family were planning. She came home very excited about the experience, bringing some special sweets called gujia, I believe, from the occasion to share with the rest of us.

Participants covered in paint from Holi festival

Image 'Holi Feest 2008' sourced from Flickr

Read the resource above about Holi, visit the Holi Festival website (or gather information from your school library) and then complete the activities below.

  1. For Holi, explain how the concept of cultural interaction is illustrated.
  2. Explain the deeper significance of Holi for Hindus.
  3. Discuss how the religious significance may be lost on non-Hindus attending a public event of colours as shown in the photos above. Consider whether that matters if the event brings people of many cultures together. As you think about it try to imagine a similar event that would be significant for you and how you would feel about people joining in who did not understand the significance of it. Share your opinions with the class.
  4. As a class, list all the religious festivals that are publically celebrated in your area. Note how they are celebrated and which groups are predominantly involved.

My 21st birthday party

This year was my 21st birthday. My mother and father booked the bowling club and we had a local band play. All my family and friends were invited and it was a huge celebration for me. My god-parents made speeches and my father gave me a big wooden 21st key. This symbolises my entrance to adulthood. When they were planning the party I felt a bit apprehensive about it, but I had a great time, and I could see how important this celebration was to my extended family, especially the older generation. I think I will do the same for my children one day.

  1. For 'My 21st birthday party' explain how the concept of customs and traditions is illustrated.
  2. Describe a celebration you have recently participated in.
  3. Explain how the concept of 'culture' applies to the celebrations you participated in.
  4. For each of the concepts listed, explain how these apply to your life: concepts - culture, society, values, cultural interaction, customs and traditions, change.
  5. Rank the concepts above in order of importance in your life. Discuss the order with a classmate. Explain to your classmate why you have ranked them in this way. After your discussion, do you still rank them in the same order, or have you changed the order of importance?
  6. In New Zealand, 21st birthdays have traditionally signalled entrance to adulthood. However, nowadays, we gain rights and responsibilities at earlier ages, for example, the right to vote at age 18. Explain what age you think should be celebrated as entry to adulthood.


Resource 6 Celebrations.rtf  2 MB

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