Monday, February 19, 2018

That One Time I Celebrated Holi

Spring is on the way. and one of my favorite ways to celebrate is by participating in Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors. If you've never experienced this amazing celebration, let me point you in this direction for some stunning photos. (Click here, but don't forget to come back and read the rest of my post! )

Holi, a Hindu festival originating in India, welcomes in spring by decorating everything in vibrant colors. As a gardener, this is the best part about spring! The dreary dark days are over, the dead landscape is springing to life in green, and various colors of flowers. It's exciting, and as such, Holi is too! 


Legend has it that King Hiranyakashipu became arrogant and thought he was untouchable, and a God, and demanded that everyone worship only him. Hiranyakashipu's own son, Prahlada, however, disagreed. He remained devoted to Vishnu (one of the holy trinity of gods in the Hindu religion). This infuriated Hiranyakashipu. He subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which deterred his son from worshipping Vishnu. Finally, Holika, Prahlada's evil aunt, tricked him into sitting on a bonfire with her. Holika was wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada was obviously not. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika and covered Prahlada, who survived while Holika burned. Vishnu then killed the king. 

The Holika bonfire and Holi signifies the celebration of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the fire that burned Holika.

Holi is a spring festival for Hindus, and a national holiday in India and Nepal. Holi is celebrated at the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month marking the spring, making the date vary with the lunar cycle. (The date typically falls in March.) [Source]


Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika Dahan. This is a celebration where people gather, perform religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil be destroyed the way Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, was killed in the fire. The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi. This is the festival of colours. [Source]


Here in Utah, there are a couple places nearby that have huge Holi festivals. One of them is in Salt Lake City, the other in Spanish Fork. My favorite place to go (although it's so huge now, it's really insane because of the two universities nearby) is the Spanish Fork event. It's at the big Radha Krishna temple outside of town. 

When you first arrive, there is loud celebratory Hindu music playing from a local band, and the crowd is mingling around the temple, temple grounds and a bonfire. You can enter the temple, look at the inside, participate in some smaller group events in there, or walk around and enjoy the view from the upper deck. You can purchase your color packets here as well. They come in a variety of bright vibrant hues, and are a powder resembling colored flour. 

Then, at the appropriate time, they burn an effigy on the bonfire to symbolize the overcoming of evil, and the end of the dark days of winter! As soon as that ends, they announce the throwing of colors can begin. Within 2 seconds, the air is filled with a thick cloud of colorful dust! People are shrouded in neon greens, pinks, purples, blues, oranges and yellows. As you walk through the crowd, people throw more color in your face, or on your back, or anywhere you don't have color. It's an excuse to play with everyone around you instead of just the people you know. Your hair gets covered in it. Everything gets covered in it. 

Then people dance and the merriment continues for a the whole afternoon. 

Most of the colors are washable, but I was lucky enough to end up with a bright pink swatch of hair for a few months after until it finally washed out. It was a fun little souvenir from a really great experience.

If you haven't been to Holi, I recommend checking out this page to see when one is happening in your area. I promise you it's an experience you won't forget. I've loved it so much I've been multiple times!

++ Have you been to Holi?

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