Mehndi Moko from humble beginnings to an international audience

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Holi the Hindu Festival of Colours will be celebrated at Rotorua SoundShell (on Memorial Drive) and Village Green, Rotorua on Sunday, 20 March 2011.

As part of the festival, a Mehndi Moko workshop will be held from 9.30 AM till 10.30 AM at the SoundShell for the benefit of the Rotorua public, in particular the arts community.

The workshop will include both Maori and Hindu designs and will be run by Gina Wright, a well known Maori artist.

Recently, Gina Wright was invited by the organisers of the 5th Annual Henna Gathering (25-27 March 2011) at Providence, Rhode Island, USA. Gina has been requested to conduct two workshops on Mehndi Moko at the international gathering. It is the first time an artist from New Zealand has been invited for such a gathering.

Gina Wright said that the international demand for high quality Mehndi Moko has been overwhelming, and she feels privileged to represent Rotorua, Aotearoa on the international stage.

By holding workshops and classes I have been able to promote this art form to a wider range of people sharing the many benefits of this contemporary adaptation of an ancient art form, Ms Wright added.

Despite lack of public funding the momentum of this art form continues to open markets and promote our culture on a scale unforeseen.

The concept of Mehndi Moko was born in Rotorua in 2010 during the first Rotorua Holi Festival organised by the Hindu Council of New Zealand, with the blessings of elders at the Te Papaiouru Marae, Rotorua.

Last years workshop not only brought together two art forms (Mehndi and Ta Moko) but also gave birth to a new phrase Mehndi Moko.

It is pleasing to know that an art form born of a cultural exchange here in Rotorua is receiving such recognition and appreciation internationally, said Dr Magesan, General Secretary of Hindu Council of New Zealand.

Those who are interested in attending the Mehndi Moko workshop on Sunday, 20 March need to register their names with either Gina Wright [gwrightfam@gmail.com] or rotorua.holi@gmail.com.

There will be a registration fee of $10.00. Seats are limited and registrations are on a first-come-first-served basis.

Holi is a festival of fun accompanied by folk songs and dances. People celebrate it by covering each other with coloured powder, and drenching with coloured water, in a spirit of merry making. This colourful festival bridges social gaps and differences, bringing people and communities together.

Last year, in addition to Rotorua public, international visitors from Germany, Netherlands, France, Belgium, England, Canada and Brazil also participated in the festival.

One of the key objectives of this festival is to encourage youth to not only participate but to also learn to organise festivals at a community level. This Holi festival will be run by youths mainly teenagers from various communities. The committee comprises of the following: Praneita Narayan, Navneet Nair, Murali Magesan, Deepika Magesan, Valencia Herbert and Gabriella Wright with guidance from Dr Meeta Patel and Dr Guna Magesan.

Given the support this festival is receiving, it is not difficult to visualise the real potential for the Rotorua Holi Festival becoming a permanent Youth festival in Rotorua, said Ms Praneita Narayan, the coordinator of this festival.

The official festival will start at 11.00 AM with a Maori welcome. Food and other stalls will open for the public, where Indian food, clothing and craft will be available. A number of dance performances and an Indian dance competition will also take place, followed by traditional Indian games and Holi folk songs. From 2.30 to 3.00 pm, participants will get an opportunity to indulge in customary revelry with coloured powder and water.

This festival is a smoke-free, alcohol-free and meat-free festival with free entry to the public. Rotorua Holi Festival is sponsored by Rotorua Civic Arts Trust; we sincerely thank our sponsors, supporting organisations and media partners for their support.

For more information: Please email rotorua.holi@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page www.facebook.com/rotorua.festivals .

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