An introduction to the Hindu festival of colours.
You will need
- Powder paint or coloured powder
- Water balloons or water pistols (optional)
Before you start
To familiarise yourself with the traditions of Holi the BBC have a video that introduces the festival and the history behind the traditions, and a couple of pages explaining Holi. They can be found here and here.
Run the activity
- Ask the young people what they know about Hindu festivals and if anyone knows about Holi.
- Explain the legend of King Hiranyakashipu who wanted to be worshiped as a god. When his son Prahlad refused and worshiped Vishnu instead, he plotted with his sister Holika to have him killed. She had a cloak to protect her from fire so planned to trick Prahlad by taking him into fire. The cloak flew off Holika and protected Prahlad. This is remembered today by gathering on the eve of Holi to light fires celebrating the triumph of good over evil and to give offerings to the fire such as popcorn, chickpeas and coconuts.
- In a space that you do not mind being coloured, provide the young people with colourful powder paint, or gulal and allow them to spread the colours between them however they wish to. Often water balloons or water pistols are used to make the colours stick.
- Gather the group and ask them to look at all the colours they have on them and what the colours signify. The colours are often used remember the god Krishna.
Different faiths have different festivals and celebrations. Many of these celebrations have aspects that are similar throughout the faiths. Everyone has things to celebrate, events that bring us together and traditions that are passed through the generations. Even if you don’t follow this faith or celebrate this festival there are plenty of festivals that everyone celebrates together. What is your favourite festival? Who do you like celebrating with?
This activity has allowed young people to explore and understand their own beliefs and the beliefs of others who belong to different major religions around the world.
Consider the space you have and the paint you are using. Is it safe for the environment if you are using it outside? Will it wash out or will you warn the young people to wear old clothes that they do not mind getting colours on?
There is a risk of slips, trips and falls throughout this activity. Keep the area clear from obstructions and consider playing on soft surfaces especially if also using water.
Consider allergies within the group to any ingredients within the powders used.
Change the level of challenge
As a largely youth led activity the group can decide how easily they spread the colours. It can be made more suitable for older sections by inviting the members to be more imaginative in the ways they spread the colours and water.
Make it accessible
For those with mobility issues consider having everyone seated when using the coloured powders and water.
For those with sensory differences allow them to feel the powders before everyone is throwing it and consider setting up a calm space that they can go if it they get overstimulated.
Youth Shaped guidance
Involve the young people and ask for their stories and experiences to shape the activity and the conversation. If using this to work towards a Faith or World Faith badge, ask the young people which faiths they are curious to discover more about.
This activity has been created by Alison Osborn, Scout Network member with Pegasus Scout Network and Skills Instructor with Stanley’s Own Scout and Guide Band as part of her King’s Scout Award.
Outcome: Celebrate the Hindu festival of colours, Holi. Learn about Hindu festivals and understand Hindu culture.
Time: 30-45 mins
Suitable for: Cubs, Scouts
Take it further
Gilwell Park’s Heritage team have a Faith Walk that covers some key sites around the home of Scouting including different places of worship.