Australia’s Young, single and Hindu -Rachael Kohn


Finding a mate is hard enough in today’s society, but for members of small religious communities, the challenge is even greater. In the first of a three part series on the young, single and spiritual, Rachel Kohn visits the Hindu festival of Holi.

The Indian festival of Holi has ancient roots in legends of royalty, family ties, valiant faith and the greatest romantic love in Hinduism, between Lord Krishna and Radha. The story goes that Krishna, who had many gopis or cowgirls he played with, loved Radha most of all. One day he asked his mother why he was so dark and Radha so fair. His mother suggested that he smear Radha’s face with colour, to change her to any colour he wanted. This is the origin of throwing colours at Holi.

‘Holi Festival itself is a romance,’ says Arunesh, an engineer who has lived in Australia for 10 years. ‘It has got romance in it because it has colours in it.’

That’s probably why I’m not in a relationship, because Bollywood has made love look so fantastic, so bright and colourful that you expect that.


‘Those colours are the colours of life. The colours start from our soul and they come on our bodies. It’s a romance, it’s everything. You can see girls, boys doing all sort of things, all legal sort of things. But we’re in a great mood and enthusiasm, and we are enjoying each other, so this is the romance.’

Not everyone who comes to Holi is aware of its romantic connotations. A group of university students I encountered saw it as a great way to connect to the culture, if not the beliefs, of Hinduism. All the people I spoke to said that connection with their community and their future mate is important, even if some aren’t looking right now.

Juhi, who has attended numerous Holi Festival functions and other Indian festivals like Devali, says it could be a great place to meet someone, but so far she hasn’t. In the meantime, she’s focusing on her career, but that doesn’t sit well with her traditional parents who regularly ask her when she is going to get married. And although the traditional avenue of finding a mate through arrangement by parents is open to her, Juhi says bluntly, ‘that’s not going to work with me’.

Surprisingly, an arranged marriage would be acceptable to high achieving media student Astha, who is not only the editor of the University of Sydney newspaper, Honi Soit, but the recent former chair of the New South Wales Advisory Council on Youth. A thoroughly modern girl with her sights set on a profession in the media or at a non-government organisation, Astha nevertheless appreciates the unique kind of bond that exists between Indians who meet at festivals. Although not as traditional as her devout parents, she never wants to let go of her Hinduism.

Bollywood is one part of Indian culture everyone knows about. The movies are where many non-Hindus first encounter Holi, which is often used as a backdrop for romance. However, romance may not always be a direct line to marriage, especially when you are actively part of the Bollywood dream. Blue-eyed and fair-skinned Priyanka could be a modern day Radha, but this Australian-born professional singer with a Hindu father and Catholic mother has her sights on Bollywood.

‘That’s probably why I’m not in a relationship, because Bollywood has made love look so fantastic, so bright and colourful that you expect that,’ she says. ‘You definitely start expecting that from your betrothed.’

‘I don’t know if men are really like that. Maybe they hide that about themselves. I think Bollywood definitely changes your perspective on Prince Charming. It’s all on a higher level … I think it’s unrealistic at times.’


  • Sunday 11 May 2014

    Hear the stories of the young, single Hindu Australians who are choosing between love and arranged marriage, and who are keen to promote their careers while keeping the tradition of Hinduism alive.

But Bollywood also has something positive to contribute for young Indians negotiating through the maze of love, life and Hinduism. Juhi says she wouldn’t mind it all if a gorgeous Bollywood star came into her life. While she jokes about the over-the-top scenarios in the movies with guys and gals dancing and singing around trees and swings, Juhi nonetheless sees a valuable image that Bollywood movies are modelling for Hindus today.

‘You’ve got the Indian boys and the girls who are quite traditional but at the same time are quite modern. So they accept both sides and they can balance both sides, and that’s a really big quality that you see in the past few years in Bollywood movies, and that’s reflected here.’

This is the first in a three part series focusing on the young, single and spiritual around Australia. Hear all the programs on The Spirit of Things.