Holi FestivalBy Jo Southall -
Not all adventures take place in far off lands, sometimes exotic enchantment can be found just outside your door. I spend the 3rd of April at Holywells Park in Ipswich celebrating Holi.
Holi, also known as the festival of colours, celebrates the arrival of spring and the sharing of love. Originally a Hindu festival, Holi has become popular throughout India and Nepal as well as much of Europe. The festival is famous for people throwing brightly coloured powder at each other. I’d never been before but attending had been on my bucket list for a while.
I got dropped off a little early since the last time I went to Holywells Park was before I got my wheelchair, I really had no idea how (in)accessible it would be. I found the area pretty early and set up by the bonfire to enjoy the music and soak up some atmosphere.
The main event was just off the path in a grassy field, the whole park is pretty hilly too so it was a bit of a challenge in my manual wheelchair even with the power assist. Some other adventurous wheelies were a little better prepared than me! Pictured below my new friend Vicki models the Mountain trike all terrain wheelchair. I must admit I’ve coveted one of these for years so I was suffering with serious wheelchair envy.
After some more music and a couple of traditional dance performances by the local dance groups we got started with the main event. Volunteers roamed the crowds handing out coloured powder and the fun began. Naturally, wheelchair on grass made me a literal sitting duck so I was soon covered in pretty colours.
The crowd was full of kids of all ages delighting in adult sanctioned messy play. Once everyone was sufficiently decorated the party really got going and the music was turned way up. The atmosphere was fantastic, hundreds of people covered in brightly coloured powder all raving to traditional Indian music. As well as spending time throwing colour and taking photos I also got to chat with some of the other impaired adventurers and photographers.
The festival of love and colour is a perfect opportunity to catch up with old friends…
And make new ones …
All in all it was a fantastic event. The access features were frustratingly lacking but the community spirit made up for some of that, everyone was more than willing to help. The lack of accessibility meant that many people were left to use their own coping strategies and assistive tech rather than just being able to turn up and jump in. Even with the event being hosted in a grassy field I am definitely planning on going again.
Maybe next year I’ll have my own all terrain wheelchair!
Ciao for now
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