The Holi festival season has begun in New Zealand with the first big event at North Hagley Park in Christchurch on Saturday, February 2.

More than 12,000 people attended the event called Holi Festival of Colours 2019 from morning 9 a.m. which turns out to be one of the biggest Indian festivals celebrated in Christchurch other than Diwali.

The first Holi event was held after the ChCh earthquake in 2013 with 1500 people, but due to its popularity over the years Holi Festival of Colours has grown exponentially over the years. The event is equally popular amongst non-Indians as it is with the growing Indian community in the city.

The event was organised by Revel Events by Hitesh Sharma and Sandeep Khanna from SK Production.

A giant screen, a massive stage, dance groups and pumping Bollywood and English music gave the event a thumping start and engaged the crowd from morning till evening.

“Many events happen in ChCh, but Holi like Diwali has grown on its merit – people have come and had a great time with music, colours coming as strangers and going as friends,” Hitesh Sharma, organiser of the event told The Indian Weekender.

There was air canons, water guns and canons with powder and liquid colours that people splashed and pasted upon one another.

The organisers also spiced up the event by showering 20 kg of rose petals on the attendees by a helicopter hovering over the venue.

“We thought of doing something special, something no one had done and the idea to shower flower petals developed. The aim to do so was to highlight the work of Westpac Rescue Helicopters (Trust) who rush to rescue people at the time of distress and mishaps.

“We planned to raise funds for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust, and through gold coin donations via many volunteers at the venue, we collected money to donate the Trust,” Mr Sharma added.

Mr Sharma further emphasised the amount of effort was input by 100 volunteers to pluck out the petals from the flowers on Friday, the eve of the event and get it ready to be put into the chopper that showed the same onto the enthusiastic crowd at the Holi event.

“Imagine plucking out petals from flowers to rain on the crowd from a helicopter, 20 kgs of it. That is the amount of effort that was put by the volunteers besides arranging the event, bringing the colours and make the event alcohol and smokefree family fun-day event,” Mr Sharma added.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel delivered the opening address at the official ceremony, Ethnic Advisor Ngai Tahu Sally Pitama gave Karakia blessings, and President of Christchurch Multicultural Council Surinder Tandon addressed the attendees.

“There are more than 170 ethnicities represented in Christchurch. We support to implement the ChCh City Council’s Multicultural Strategy, and one of its goals is to value and celebrate

Christchurch’s diversity. This festival of colours Holi fulfils this goal very well. Thanks to City

Council for their immense support for Holi,” President of Christchurch Multicultural Association, Surinder Tandon said at the event.

“The Holi event held on Saturday was a triple celebration- Holi, Waitangi Day (that falls on February 6) and next month's Race Relations Day which all have a common sign of appreciating and promoting harmony, equality and respect for diverse ethnicities/cultures.

Happy Holi and ‘Holi Hai’ echoed at the venue besides amazing music to which men, women, children from different communities danced and celebrating the festival of colours.