CHILDREN celebrated the Indian festival of Holi in a burst of colour, welcoming the first day of spring on Friday.

Pupils at Shaw Ridge Primary School embraced the ancient Hindu custom with the help of the Swindon Indian Association by enjoying a coloured water and powder fight in true Holi spirit.

And the cultural fun did not stop there. From a Bollywood dance workshop and hands-on Indian cuisine tutorial to a dressing-up session, complete with saris and nose-rings, students explored every aspect of India’s traditions.

Neetu Bhardwaj, of Swindon Indian Association, was one of six helpers on the day teaching students about her homeland’s culture.

“In India, we celebrate the start of spring with the Holi festival and people apply colour on their faces and play with coloured water and water balloons,” said the 39-year-old, from Wroughton.

“The school approached us to do something for the Holi and we put this plan together. “Children were split into groups and we had three workshops. One where they learnt how to cook Indian dishes like gol gappa and a coconut sweet called laddu, another where they dressed up in Indian attire with accessories and jewellery. And we also did some Bollywood dancing.

“We had given themstories about Holi beforehand so they had done their research.

“They really enjoyed themselves but the best part for me was when we finished and the kids came to us and asked for a big hug. It was amazing and really sweet of them.”

The festival of spring was designed to broaden their horizons and encourage respect and understanding of other customs.

“It is important for us to teach our culture,” said the mother-of-two. “There are lots of myths about different cultures so it was about creating unity and educating the children.”