American Fork, Utah Holi Color Festival 2013!
The Holi Color Festival has been called the largest Hindu festival in the western hemisphere. The Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple located in a rural part of American Fork, Utah is a perfect setting for the large temple dedicated to the Hindu deity, Krishna. The Temple is used once a year for the celebration of Holi, or as it has come to be known—The Color Festival. This year the Holi Color Festival ushered in spring as it always does, with a huge burst of color and music.
The word ‘Holi’ originated from ‘Holika’ sister of Hiranyakashipu. The festival of Holi is originates in Hindu religion with the story of Vaishnavism, Hiranyakashipu, the great king of demons. Hiranyakashipu was granted a boon by Brahma, which made it almost impossible for him to be killed. He was granted the boon following a long penance, after which he demanded that he not be killed “during day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or in the sky; neither by a man nor an animal; neither by astra nor by shastra.” Consequently, Hiranyakashipu grew arrogant and attacked the Heavens and the Earth. He demanded that people stop worshiping gods and start worshiping him.
Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada, was a devotee of Vishnu. In spite of several threats from Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada continued to worship Vishnu. Subsequently, Prahlada was poisoned by Hiranyakashipu, but the poison turned to nectar in his mouth. He was ordered to be trampled by elephants yet remained unharmed. He was put in a room with hungry, poisonous snakes and survived. All of Hiranyakashipu’s attempts to kill his son failed. Finally, he ordered young Prahlada to sit on a pyre in the lap of Holika, Hiranyakashipu’s demoness sister, who also could not die. Prahlada readily accepted his father’s orders, and prayed to Lord Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika burnt to death, while Prahlada survived unharmed. The salvation of Prahlada and burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.
In Mathura, where Krishna grew up, the Holi festival was celebrated for sixteen days in commemoration of the divine love of Prahladha for Krishna. The festivities officially usher in spring, the celebrated season of love. Holi is of particular significance in the Braj region of India, which includes locations traditionally connected to Krishna: Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon, and Barsana.
This culturally rich celebration of love, life, unity, spring, and the promise of a bright new season of life is a great was to spend the afternoon. Music is ever present in the back ground and a wonderful mixed aroma of the perfumed chalk and the delicious vegetarian meals that are prepared right outside the temple fill the air with a sense of universal unity and happiness. Those who come to participate in Holi can purchase bags of colored and perfumed chalk dust that are thrown into the air. The chalk then falls to the ground covering everyone and everything in beautiful pink, green, yellow, blue, orange, and purple. The Holi color festival is a great cultural experience available right here in Utah. I urge everyone to attend at least once in their life time.