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Krishna Temple Welcomes Spring

by Brittany Leonard, Daily Universe, Brigham Young University

Posted March 25, 2006

Participants purchased festive spring-colored powder and proceeded to have a riotous color fight to welcome in the spring season.

Fire and color mixed together in a hazy aura of spastic bodies and chanting. Students and families -- young and old -- threw handfuls of vibrant powder at each other in a frenzied celebration of spring, circling a 10-foot bonfire topped with the glowing effigy of a demoness. Soon, raindrops littered the scene, turning powder marks into pinpoints of paint.

The Holi festival had arrived once again, turning the lazy farmland of Spanish Fork into an afternoon epicenter of culture and color.

More than 2,000 people gathered at the Hare Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork on Saturday evening, March 18, 2006, to celebrate the Holi festival, a Hindu religious event marking the beginning of spring and commemorating the victory of Lord Vishnu over the demoness Holika.

The event started in India over 5,000 years ago and has been celebrated enthusiastically every year since. In India, most participants use the powdered colors with water, creating collages of red, blue, yellow and green throughout the crowded streets. For this single day, caste boundaries and strict proprietary standards are suspended, making all revelers equal.

Locally, the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple presented dances, songs, chants, a drama and a ritual bathing ceremony inside the temple before starting the festivities outside. The crowds who came for the event were a hodge-podge mix of devoted worshippers, spectators, and students eager for the throwing of colors.

"I am not quite sure what this is all about," said Andy Baxter, a psychology student, gesturing to the line of t-shirted zoobies lined up to bathe a golden statue with a honey and yogurt mixture. "The chalk fighting -- that is why I am here."

Caru Das, festival coordinator, led the activities both inside and outside, joining in with the rock band in chanting praises to Hare Krishna. He said he wasn't sure exactly how many people came this year, but that they packaged over 3,000 bags of color and didn't have problems selling them.

During the throwing of colors, some community members watched peacefully from the temple balconies, keeping their clothes clean and enjoying a birds-eye-view of the swirling masses. However, most revelers couldn't resist the opportunity to chuck powder at everyone within arm's length, dousing friends and strangers alike in vivid hues.

"It almost makes me wonder if I'm in the wrong religion," joked Melanie Monroe, a junior graphic design major from San Diego. "Almost."

The festival has been celebrated here for six years and has started becoming a spring tradition for many students and other members of the community.

Regardless of religious persuasion of the revelers, the festival welcomed in spring with energy and zeal, even if spring weather will come later -- long after the powder has been washed away and the Krishna temple has resumed its peaceful Sunday services.