Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bathing in the Colors of Spring

It's a surreal experience to celebrate Holi or the Festival of Color in Spanish Fork, Utah. Most of the people who converged on the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple yesterday were BYU students reveling in their own form of spring break.

In the legend commemorated by the festival, an evil king named Hiranyakashipu forbids his son Prahlad from worshipping Vishnu. But Radhu rebelliously continued to offer prayers to the god. Getting angry with his son, Hiranyakashipu challenged Prahlad to sit on a pyre with his wicked aunt Holika who was believed to be immune to fire.

Prahlad accepted the challenge and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika was burned to death, while Prahlad survived without a scar.

The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi. According to some accounts, Holika begged Prahlad for forgiveness before her demise, and he decreed that she would be remembered every year at Holi.

Part of the beauty of the celebration is that once the colors are thrown over the crown, everyone is the same colorful combination. They shed their differences and become one. The irony of the festival in Utah is that most of the 15,000 BYU students there looked more alike before the throwing of the colors than after.


mbjesq said...

Wow, Holi in Utah. Now that's different! Holi is the kind of festival you participate in once and spend subsequent years looking to avoid, if possible. Or maybe I'm just a killjoy. It's fun, especially when you are with small kids; but boy is it a mess! When I'm in the North of India during Holi, I usually find myself skulking through the streets, willing myself to be invisible, or reliving the dodgeball games of my early childhood to avoid getting creamed with colors. In the South, where I live, it's not really played. Still, its quite a spectacle -- as your wonderful photos demonstrate.

Olivia said...

mbjesq, I can see why you may avoid it. I'm blowing purple out of my nose, my white socks are now pink, and had to clean my camera with a q-tip. Probably a one-time thing for me. Fun to see once though!

Bebe said...

I feel cheated. I SOOOO wish I would have gone with you. Make me go next year, please?

Olivia said...

Next year you will be talking ME into going Bebe.

honeypiehorse said...

It looks amazing. I take it this is not a strictly Mormon celebration?