Holi

In short...

Themes: Spring festivals; celebrations; Hinduism; Holika and Prahlad; Krishna and Radha.

Summary: Holi is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Hindus and in 2021 falls on 28th / 29th March. The festival remembers the legend of Prahlad and the demon, Holika. During the festival people smear each other in bright coloured powder - called gulal - which recalls the story of Krishna and his love for Radha.

Resources: The framework to download / print (pdf). The assembly also includes an image showing Krishna and Radha.

The video

A young Hindu describes what happens during Holi and reveals what she loves about the festival, which is often referred to as the 'festival of colour'.

Holi begins with Holika Dahan, when bonfires are lit to remember the story of Holika and Prahlad. On the second day - Rangwali Holi - people cover each other in brightly coloured paint called gulal to remember the love story of Krishna and Radha.

The video illustrates the colourful traditions of Holi as well as including two short animations of the stories associated with the festival.

Duration: 4' 14"

End of speech: '...And that's why I love Holi!' + images of children celebrating.

Video questions

  • How many days does Holi last for? (2 days: Holika Dahan and Rangwali Holi)
  • What story about good and evil does Holi remember? (The story of Holika and Prahlad)
  • What is the coloured power called? (Gulal)
  • Why do people cover each other in the powder? (To remember the story of Krishna and his love for Radha - thus it's a way of showing love for each other)
  • What do the different colours of the powder mean? (Blue is for the gods / Red is for love and fertility / Yellow is for knowledge and learning / Green is for nature and the start of spring)

Key links

Assembly framework (pdf)
document
Image: Krishna and Radha
image
Image: children celebrating Holi
image

Suggested framework

1. Entry music
Traditional Indian music - selected from an online search.

2. Introduction
Tell the assembly that today they will be finding out about a Hindu festival called 'Holi'. Explain to the group that Holi has its roots in Hindu communities in India and Nepal, but that it is celebrated by people from Hindu and non-Hindu communities all over the world. Ask the children to be on the lookout for information on the meanings behind the traditions of Holi.

3. The video
Play the video. The duration is 4' 14" and the final words are: '...and that's why I love Holi!'

4. After the video
Ask the children: ‘Turn to the person next to you and tell them which part of the Holi festival you would find the most fun.’

5. Time to talk
Use the Video questions to lead a discussion about what the children have watched:

  • 'The Holi festival is about colour, light and new beginnings. Can anyone tell us how many days Holi Festival lasts for?’ (2 days).
  • 'What story about good and evil does Holi remember?' (Holika and Prahlad). Wait for responses and follow-up with: ‘What can we learn from this story?’ (Look for an awareness of good triumphing over evil or good over bad).
  • ‘The second day of the Holi festival is filled with lots of celebrations such as traditional music and dancing. Another central tradition is colour. Can anyone remember what the colourful powder was called that people cover each other in during Holi celebrations?’ (Gulal).
  • ‘Can anyone remember why people cover themselves in the colourful powder?’ (Look for an awareness of the story of Krishna and Radha, or more broadly of people showing a sign of love). Wait for responses and follow-up with: ‘Can anyone remember what the different colours that people use mean?’ (Blue = represents the gods; Red = love and fertility; yellow = knowledge and learning; green = nature and the start of spring).

6. Opportunity to sing
An opportunity to sing your chosen song. Suggestions from BBC collections below.

7. Opportunity to reflect
Focus your reflection on the core themes of the Holi festival - love, new beginnings and happiness.
Holi is a time for thinking about love, new beginnings and happiness.
Think quietly to yourself about the people you love and the things that make you happy...
Sometimes people can be unkind to us - like in the story of Holika and Prahlad - but the festival of Holi celebrates love and good triumphing over bad...
It shows us that new beginnings are possible...
Think about a new beginning you'd like to make...and how you will make it happen...

8. Opportunity for prayer
Begin with your usual form of address ('Dear God', 'Lord Jesus', 'Let us pray...' etc) and:
Thank you for the lessons we can learn from the festival of Holi.
Help us to share happiness and love with our friends and family and celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
Amen.

Suggested songs

Song: 'Being a friend' (All about our school, no 8. Vocal version)

Assembly frameworks on related themes

Chinese New Year
collection