In the News:
Festival at Krishna Temple draws 1,500
Posted April 7, 2005
A two story bonfire to burn a papier-mâché demoness, 1,200 packets of green, red, yellow, and blue powder thrown onto 1,500 people jumping to a live band, a vegetarian buffet and the sun setting below the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork.
Welcome to Holi, the festival of Colors.
The festival began at 4 pm Saturday as hundreds jammed into the temple, filling every available space inside and overflowing onto the wrap-around balcony.
So many people waited in line to be smudged with ceremonial charcoal and receive a blessing-double the number of last year-that the color throwing portion of the festival was more than an hour behind schedule.
Visitors watched classical dances of India by two performers and heard the ancient story of Holika, the demoness who, immune to fire, burned scores of children before trying to burn a child named Prahlad. When Prahlad prayed to Lord Vishnu, Holika was burned instead. The festival commemorates that victory.
The crowd then moved outside the temple, following the papier-mâché Holika, which was placed on the bonfire to be destroyed.
The live band then struck up as the crowd of screaming, laughing participants coated each others' clothes, hair, faces and arms with the powders. Poofs of neon filled the air and coated the ground.
The bonfire "is a symbol of the warmth of spring banishing winter," said Caru Das, priest at the temple and festival organizer. The colors symbolize the flowers of spring.
Even as the temperature dipped below freezing and darkness descended, hundreds of now multi-hued dancers remained, bobbing and writhing to the music.
Festivals held in warmer months accommodate many thousands of visitors on the temple grounds, but with temperatures forcing everyone inside on Saturday for all but the color throwing portion of the festivities, the temple seemed too small, Das said with a laugh.
"We don't do much advertising of this festival because we are scared we won't be able to handle all the people.", he said.
Though most people at the festival may have been there to have fun, and not necessarily to worship, the experience can elevate everyone who participates, he said.
"I think it gives people a chance to not be themselves for a couple of hours, to be one with a group-a big band of people. And I think that is what God Consciousness is about, that feeling of being part of a whole," Das said.
Some people at the festival were simply curious about the temple and the religion.
"We've never been here before and we only live a few miles down the road," said Julie Jensen of Benjamin, who attended with her daughter, Chrystal. "We've never taken the opportunity to experience another culture, to see how they do things and what their customs are."
Others were veterans of Holi.
"It's so fun," said Saul Gilbert of Salt lake City, who was attending the second year in a row. "There is a huge bonfire, and you get to throw color on people, and the kids get to throw it on the grownups."
The Krishna Temple, 8628 S. State Street, Spanish Fork, is open
from 10 am to 7 pm for free tours. For information on Holi or future
festivals, Krishna radio, the gift shop or restaurant, visit
www.utahkrishnas.com or call 344-2543.