Paint-throwing ceremony in Durham as museum celebrates Festival of Colours

It may have been art but it was also a great deal of fun as visitors to Durham University’s Oriental Museum celebrated an ancient Hindu festival


It may have been art but it was also a great deal of fun as visitors to Durham University’s Oriental Museum celebrated an ancient Hindu festival.

Visitors were given bags of powdered paint and told to throw them over family and friends.

The event was held to celebrate the Indian Holi festival, also known as the Festival of Colours, to mark the arrival of spring in an explosion of blue, red, yellow and green.

It was the first time the museum in Elvet Hill, Durham, has held an event to mark the festival and organisers say it was a resounding success.

Dr Craig Barclay, Oriental Museum Curator said: “This is the first time the museum has celebrated Holi festival and it is set to be the only event of its kind held in the North of England this spring.

“We hope that visitors will have had fun getting messy at the Holi festival and also consider taking part in some of the other Indian events we are organising this spring.”

Each guest was given a bag of environmentally friendly and skin-kind Holi powder in one of a range of colours. Everyone was then invited to throw the powder in a coordinated countdown.

There were four powder throwing sessions during the afternoon, all of which were completely free, but visitors needed to book in advance to ensure they got a place.

Visitors were advised to be prepared to get messy and to wear light coloured clothing for maximum effect. One session was reserved for families with smaller children.

The event included craft activities, storytelling, music, and rangoli drawing. Rangoli drawing is the use of geometric shapes using rice or flour to which colours have been added.

The Oriental Museum is the only museum in the North of Britain devoted entirely to the art and archaeology of the Orient.

Their Chinese and Egyptian collections are among the finest to be found anywhere in the country but yesterday the emphasis was on fun.

The Holi Festival is a traditional Hindu ceremony which has recently become popular with non-Hindus.

Everyone chases and colours each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and water-filled balloons for their water fight.

Anyone and everyone is fair game as groups of youths roam the streets.

Yesterday’s was more controlled as the museum marked the arrival of spring.

The Holi Festival was just one event in a month-long Indian Spring Festival being held at the Oriental Museum this March.

Other events include an introduction to Bhakti Yoga, an afternoon of Indian Music with experts from Durham University and Indian dance performance and workshops led by Leeds-based Annapurna Dance.

All events are free but booking is essential. Bookings can be made directly through where more information on all of the events can also be found.


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