The Hindu spring festival Holi – also known as Phagwah – starts tonight. The 24-hour festival is a celebration of renewal and love celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Newar Buddhists around the world. The festival and its message of unity and love is increasingly being embraced by non-Hindus, which is timely given the political climate we face in Ontario.
Known as the festival of colours, Holi is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. The hallmark of the Holi celebration is the spirited throwing of colourful powders. Each of the colours has a meaning, but blue has some historical labour movement roots in the Indian state of Bengal. The indigo plant, used for dye to make the blue powder, was planted in Bengal where growing conditions were ideal. But the peasant farmers were severely oppressed and abused. That mistreatment led the farmers to stage a largely non-violent uprising against indigo planters known as the Blue Mutiny or Indigo Revolt in 1859.
In Ontario, the South Asian community is underrepresented in many skilled professions despite the fact that many have high levels of education. OPSEU and our Coalition of Racialized Workers are working hard together to make positive changes in Ontario workplaces so that opportunities and mentoring are available to all racialized workers.
In the spirit of spring, renewal and unity, we wish everyone celebrating a happy and wonderful Holi.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, First Vice-President/Treasurer