29th Annual Festival of Colors

In India, Holi announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. The festival breathes an atmosphere of social merriment. People bury their hatchets with a warm embrace and throw their worries to the wind. Every nook and corner presents a colorful sight. Young and old alike are covered with colors (red, green, yellow, blue, black and silver). Small groups of people are seen singing, dancing and throwing colors on each other.

Though liquid colors are used in India (where it’s warm) we prohibit them, as we don’t want anyone to catch cold on account of the festival. Dry is better for photographs as well.

Holi has long traditional links with several legends. According to one popular legend, the word Holi is derived from the demoness, Holika. She was the sister of Hiranya Kashipu (the name meaning love of gold and a soft bed), a demon king, who having defeated the gods, proclaimed his supremacy over everyone else in the Universe. Enraged over his son’s ardent devotion to Lord Vishnu, Hiranya Kashipu decides to punish him. He takes the help of his sister, Holika, who is immune to any damage from fire. Holika carries the small boy Prahlad into the fire, but a divine intervention destroys her and saves Prahlad from getting burned. Thus Holi is celebrated to mark the burning of the evil Holika. Her effigy is consumed in the fire!

Holi is celebrated with special importance in the North of India. It solemnizes the love of Radha and Krishna. The spraying of colored powders recalls the love sport of Lord Krishna and His devotees.

The color, noise and entertainment that accompanies the celebration of Holi bears witness to a feeling of oneness and sense of brotherhood. The festival brings home the lesson of spiritual and social harmony.

Modern Adaptation

The Krishna temple in Spanish Fork began the celebration of Holi in 1995. Then a small group of Indians, BYU students and devotees gathered in the first primitive building and threw colors on each other – inside!

Never again were the colors thrown inside (we had to clean colors out of the grooves in the wooden floor with a toothbrush). Since then, every observance has been outdoors and every year, crowds doubled until 2012, when we seemed to have plateaued out at 20,000 over a two-day period.

Caru Das, of the Spanish Fork temple made three changes away from the traditional way of celebrating the event in India.

   1. He gathered people together en masse, as if to a giant music concert. In India the event traditionally had been diffused everywhere without a central venue and/or any single large gathering.

   2. He introduced the concept of a single mass countdown and “color throw” at the top of every hour.

   3. While chanting Sanskrit mantras (Names of God), the Spanish Fork event featured background music such as hip hop, rap, edm, ska, dub, rock and roll, and reggae.  

The event celebrated in Spanish Fork is a happy convergence of east and west, old and new, antique and contemporary. Aside from music of every sort, chanting, and dancing, there will be hourly color throws, lots of cruelty free food trucks and booths, crafts, and free yoga classes.

If you haven’t been, you, your family and friends should experience this groundbreaking celebration at least once in your life. If you have attended in the past, we’d love you to return to get your annual blast of love, brotherhood and community.

To find out more about the performers, stage schedules, tickets and merchandise, visit www.festivalofcolorsusa.com

Submitted by Caru Das

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