The Festival of Colors

Mar 28, 2010

Yesterday I went to this really cool event with some friends called the Festival of Colors. The first time I heard about the festival was the day before it took place, and I wan't sure if I want to go or not - but I'm very glad I did. Initially, I didn't really know what the festival was for; my friend told me that a bunch of people gather and throw colors at each other - I thought is sounded interesting and decided to go along. Before going, however, I looked into the culture and background behind the festival.

The Festival of Colors, or the Holi Festival, is a Hindi celebration of the coming of Spring and the passing of Winter. The festival takes place once per year in Spanish Fork, UT at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple, and is celebrated widely throughout India. Upon arrival to the temple, people buy bags of colored powder and throw them on one another to celebrate spiritual and social harmony. Among the colors, there is dancing and chanting of the phrase, "Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna; Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama; Rama Rama, Hare Hare". In India, Krishna is a term meaning "All attractive" and Rama means "Highest Pleasure Absolute" - both are references to a higher power or "God" in Hindi culture. There is also the burning of and effigy which is meant to represent the burning of the evil goddess Holika. The festival celebrates "throwing your worries to the wind" in order to find a "feeling of oneness and sense of brotherhood" according to the website for the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple.

My experience yesterday was amazing. However, at first my friends and I had some doubt. We left for the festival about two hours early, and arrived in Spanish Fork about and hour later at 3 PM, welcomed by a horde of traffic miles down the road. Stuck in traffic, we were worried we would miss the countdown (for each celebration, there is a countdown for everyone to throw their colors in the air in unison and create a rainbow cloud in the air). Our spirits began to diminish when time seemed to have run out, so we figured we had nothing to lose taking a back road to the event. We began weaving through some neighborhood and came to a parking lot where we discovered a shuttle bus was taking people to the temple. Our problems were solved! ...until we saw the line waiting for the next bus, and learned we were still two miles away. Back to our car, we continued along a winding road through a pastoral section of farmland. Thinking we were lost and the countdown was over, we didn't know what to do; then, suddenly, we came over a hill and saw the temple rising up further down the road. We parked, walked up to the festival, and were quickly thrown into a wave of colorful people and powder in the air. Our excitement was reestablished when we found out that the countdown had not, in fact, taken place yet! Within a few minutes the sky was shrouded in color and my vision, in the midst of a crowd of people, was limited to only a small radius due to the thickness of smoke in the air. Then the chanting began.

The festival itself was amazing, but I think the festival was only the momentary pinnacle of our journey there. I feel like it was the ride there that really sort of epitomized the purpose of the whole festival. Despite a little bit of adversity and perceived disappointment along the way, we all threw our worries to the wind, took in the awesome scenery around us, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves even before witnessing the actual festival. The overall experience I think showed me some of the value in always staying positive and making the best of any situation, because a lot of enjoyment in life can come from simple things that may not normally seem like "fun" if not given the right perspective. I would definitely recommend attending this festival next year for anyone looking for a new and interesting experience. If anyone wants more information on the festival or to watch a video of tival and the countdown, the link is: