Holi Moley // Holi Festival Darling Harbour

Raffles gets pummelled - Holi
What else would the Eats World family do on a sunny Sydney Sunday than paint the town red… and green and pink and yellow.

A centuries old Hindu festival where caste, class, age and gender differences are put aside, Holi is a joyous celebration of both the arrival of Spring and the triumph of good over evil! “Like a superhero?” asks Raffles! Kind off, honey. A gujia (sweet dumpling) gobbling spiritual superhero, if you like.

If, like us, you don’t happen to find yourself in India or Nepal on the day after the first full moon in March, the Holi Matsalov Festival in Darling Harbour is not a bad alternative!

Holi temple decorations

Though, if I’m being completely honest, we haven’t come for spiritual edification today. In fact, we’ve really just come to fill our greedy bellies! You see, the Eats World clan has never been one to knock back a good curry and when we got wind of an Indian festival in the city we figured that not only will we be able to fill our gluttonous gobs with some tasty Indian treats, we might just get to expose the kids to a little culture.

Henna painting at Holi


But the Holi festival proves to be so much more than an excuse for a samosa or two.

dancers at HoliWhile I’m not denying we’ll be eating, a lot,  the festival is also a ticket to an exuberant afternoon of Nirvana. We find music, dancing, henna tattooing and the chance to share in spreading a wonderful message of unity and peace. And, when I say peace, I actually mean the opportunity for us to smash the crap out of each other with coloured powder!

preparing the colours for holiholi coloured powders

Some believe the origin of the Festival of Colours, as it’s better known, lies with Krishna, one of the three main gods that makes up the holy trinity (along with Shiva, and Brahma!) and one of our personal Hindu faves!

You see, as far as deities go, Krishna was a very naughty boy! Cheeky young Krishna painted the whole of Gokul (his home town) red with his mischief and, it is alleged, loved nothing better than chucking coloured water over the gopis (milkmaids). This, I assume, is what eventually developed into the practical jokes and games of Holi. Most notably the colour throwing part, something we’re about to witness for the first time. At point blank range!

colours fly at Holi

We duck as coloured powder starts to fly. Even though we’re behind a barrier, my face and hair soon turn a vibrant shade of green. “You’re mutating mummy…. like a Ninja Turtle!” laughs my excited, and somewhat turtle obsessed, son.

The crowd goes wild as the colour flies at Holi

Fast realising that as bystanders we’re missing out on most of the fun and getting covered in colour anyway, we decide to join in the frenzy of powder flinging!

Daddy going in for the colour kill at Holi

Raffles and Mr Eats World go nuts. Declaring a colour war on each they are soon pummeling each other with handfuls of the gaudy pigment!

colour crazy at Holi

Raffles, doing his best impression of a pantone chart, goes wild attacking his dad who it must be said s giving as good as he gets. As the last handfuls of powder are flung by my rainbow warriors there is no clear victor. Husband and child are both now broadcasting in glorious technicolour!

kids colour throwing - HoliWhen we aren’t frolicking in the coloured powder we do find the time to enjoy a few tasty treats. First up some chapatis with curry sauce, vegetable pakoras and a nice veggie curry.


Then gugia and jalebi (which is essentially fried orange batter coated in sugar).


Another curious tradition we discover that is associated with Holi is the drinking of Bhang Lassi,which is pretty much bong water! Okay, so it’s not actually bong water but it is green and it does contain an intoxicating liquid derivative of cannabis. Let’s just say that it’s going to lend a slightly psychedelic edge to all those flying colours! But, though it’s quite legal in India, we Sydneysiders have to make do with a more benign, but seriously tasty, Mango Lassi.

Spent, I have to drag our rainbow hued family away from the festivities, attracting more than a few startled gazes as we catch the ferry home. Bhang or no bhang I’ve got to say, Holi is quite a trip!

Holi fun

24 Comments on Holi Moley // Holi Festival Darling Harbour

  1. Bek Mugridge
    April 8, 2013 at 3:59 pm (11 years ago)

    Wow this looks so amazing. I would lve to take my girls to this next year.
    Thanks for all the information and what wonderful photo’s x

  2. Mum-2-3
    April 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm (11 years ago)

    It looks like you had loads of fun! I imagine bath time was quite something x

  3. Trish MLDB
    April 9, 2013 at 8:17 am (11 years ago)

    The colour powder reminds me of the color run. It looks like awesome fun.

  4. BossyMummy
    April 9, 2013 at 9:56 am (11 years ago)

    What an awesome festival – colour, fun and food! The photos have turned out great, glad you all had a great time 🙂

    Hello from #teamIBOT

  5. Kim
    April 9, 2013 at 10:25 am (11 years ago)

    Awesomely awesome! You can see I’m short of adjectives here. It just looks amazing. I’m disappointed I missed it. I’m in Sydney – would love to take my kids next year. It’s just perfect – the color run, without the running!!!! YES! And curry – even better.

      April 9, 2013 at 11:20 am (11 years ago)

      The lack of running is awesome! You must go! 🙂

  6. Amy@New Adventures
    April 9, 2013 at 11:23 am (11 years ago)

    Looks like fun! And the prospect of a curry followed by a mango lass I would entice me too!

  7. Me
    April 9, 2013 at 1:40 pm (11 years ago)

    It looks like you all had heaps of fun. I can’t wait for the color run which is happening next Sunday !!!
    Have the best day !
    #IBOT visitor

      April 10, 2013 at 11:37 am (11 years ago)

      Enjoy the colour run! It’s going to be awesome fun! 🙂

  8. lydia C lee
    April 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm (11 years ago)

    Great pics – the thumbnail was enough to lure me in!!

  9. Becky from BeckyandJames.com
    April 9, 2013 at 8:07 pm (11 years ago)

    This looks and sounds awesome, although, I might pass on the bong water… What a great experience for you and your family.

      April 10, 2013 at 11:10 am (11 years ago)

      Yep, Bhang Lassi sounds pretty disgusting to be honest. I was more than happy with Mango!

  10. mamagrace71
    April 9, 2013 at 8:09 pm (11 years ago)

    Wow! How colourful and it looks like so much fun! I love henna. Have always secretly wanted to do it to my hands.

  11. Rachel
    April 10, 2013 at 8:07 am (11 years ago)

    That looks like the BEST fun ever! As usual you’ve inspired me to get out there more with my own boys and experieince all the wonderful cultures we have in our country. We’ve got Panayiri Greek Festival coming up soon here in Bris so I might start with that!

      April 10, 2013 at 10:57 am (11 years ago)

      Aww thanks Rachel. The Panayiri Greek Festival sounds fab! Wish we were in Brissie! Love Greek food.

  12. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    April 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm (11 years ago)

    I love the photos! I saw your pics on facebook and knew that we were in for a treat 😀

  13. Cooker and a Looker
    April 12, 2013 at 9:31 am (11 years ago)

    I was just talking about this festival on Wednesday, but I couldn’t remember what it was called. It looks like fabulous fun. We’re taking the kids on the Colour Run later this year – I hope they get into it as much as Raffles.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm (11 years ago)

      I’m sure they’ll love it! 🙂

  14. Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel
    April 12, 2013 at 2:35 pm (11 years ago)

    Fun, what a laugh, and great, great colours. Storing that away in my little mind for next year!

  15. bachelormum style
    April 12, 2013 at 5:27 pm (11 years ago)

    I spent a holi day in Nepal years ago, and I’ve still got the pics of us covered In red dye. I’m going to look out for the Sydney version. My daughter and I wld love it.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm (11 years ago)

      How amazing to experience it in Nepal! That’s my dream 🙂

  16. Sabeen
    April 12, 2013 at 10:00 pm (11 years ago)

    Omg! I am SO loving those fresh hot jalebis – so so jealous 🙂
    Never been to a holi event but I have seen enough Bollywood movies in my years to know what a fun day it can be! and looks like you all had an amazing time!


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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