This weekend, thousands of people across the world celebrated the Hindu festival of Holi. Called the ‘festival of colour’, it’s celebrated across north India, usually in February/March on the last full moon day of the 12th month of the Hindu calendar. It marks the end of the winter season and the coming of spring, which people celebrate by throwing coloured powder and water, creating riotous explosions of colour.
The festival of Holi symbolises the victory of good over evil. The story varies from location to location, but the basic tale is as follows: Hiranyakashipu, the king, wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship him. His son Prahlad, the prince, refused and worshipped Lord Vishnu instead. The king attempted to kill his son and ordered Prahlad to sit on a pyre in the lap of King’s sister Holika, who was immune to fire. Prahlad obeyed his father and prayed to Lord Vishnu to save him. Because Holika had used her powers for evil reasons, she was burnt to death and Prahlad survived as a result of his true devotion to Lord Vishnu. The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi and bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival – an event called Holika Dahan (burning of Holika).
Holi is not only celebrated in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, but in the US, UK and Caribbean and across the Indian diaspora. It’s marked with great enthusiasm in the UK – Hindus are the third largest religious group here – and celebrations are particularly lively in areas with a large Indian contingent, such as Southall and Birmingham. In London, crowds gather to offer prayers to gods and goddesses in temples across the city, such as the Neasden Temple and the ISKON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness) Temple in Soho, London.
The popularity of festivals such as Holi in the UK and elsewhere is a product of the spread of Indian culture to vast swathes of the world, brought by the migrants who’ve left the country to find work abroad and maintained by the generations that have followed. In India, these traditions now exist alongside a thriving business world: even within the bustling streets of the country’s megacities, businesspeople jostle alongside holy men and temple-goers and traditional celebrations such as Holi take place near to business parks and high rises.
Intertwined histories and family links have helped deepen business links between the UK and India, not to mention shared language (English is one of India’s official languages) and shared culture, from cricket to curry. Many British companies outsource to India and it’s very common for them to relocate Indian nationals here, on a temporary or more permanent basis. Now, as India’s role on the world stage has shifted and the country has become a hub for high-tech industries, it’s becoming more and more common for British nationals to travel to the country on business, or even to relocate there. Getting a visa to work in the country is relatively straightforward and, at the moment, there are 32,000 Britons officially living in India; unofficially, there are probably many more.
We’ll continue to research business developments in India to ensure that we can offer apartments wherever our clients require them and, thanks to recent additions to our portfolio, we can now offer our clients even more choice across the country. As well as the apartments we already offered in major cities such as Hyderabad and Mumbai, we’ve recently added Kasturibai Apartments, T Nagar Apartments, Cathedral Garden Apartments and Nungambakkam Apartments in Chennai; Sohna Apartments and Gardens Apartments in Gurgaon; Mallya Apartments in Bangalore and Jaydev Vihar Apartments in Bhubaneswar.
Pictured: Anant after 2009’s Holi festival