By Elizabeth Stuart
When Charu Das looks up at the snow capped Rocky Mountains from the steps of the Spanish Fork Krishna Temple, he thinks of a different mountain range, far away from Das” humble temple: the Himalayas.
Utah”s version of the famous Himalayan Mountains, considered divine by people of Das” faith, Vaishnavism, inspired Das to plan the Himalayan Festival in a celebration opening the summer season.
The holiness inherent in Das” beloved mountains embodies the character of Saturday”s Himalayan Festival. The festival promises a peek into the Indian spiritual connection with deity as well as insight on culture and philosophy.
Bored churchgoers unwilling to dedicate a Saturday night to theology can rest assured: in Vaishnavism, spirituality is anything but dull.
Orem native Joe Perry, who will play the role of Lord Shiva in one of the festival”s three plays, said it was the Vaishnavas” personal idea of a fun-loving God that originally attracted him to the religion.
“God is a playful, fun, real person,” he said.
The lighthearted attitude and sense of humor of the god of Vaishnavism is easy to spot in the way he is worshipped, Das said.
The characteristic sensuality of Indian performing arts is not dampened in the slightest.
Das said sensual satisfaction through sights, sounds and good tastes is an integral part of Indian spirituality.
“In India, we celebrate spirituality,” he said. “Being spiritualists doesn”t mean we live in a cave somewhere and stare at our navels.”
At the festival, devotees of the religion will take to the stage belly dancing, singing and performing in dramas in literal expressions of their devotion to deity, Das said.
Shreyes Hoskere plays the same instrument, a bamboo flute, Lord Krishna legendarily played to charm the womenfolk.
As it turns out, the prayer-like musings of the famous instrument, were as effective for Hoskere, who met his girlfriend through his flute playing, as for Lord Krishna.
“I hope my playing will have that same mesmerizing affect on the audience,” he said.
The colorful worship of the Vaishnavas is intriguing and, as a result, past festivals have been largely attended by members of other religions.
“We all crave to indulge our senses,” Das said. “The problem is when indulgence gets us in trouble. Here [at the Himalayan Festival] you can indulge in your senses for the pleasure of God.”
Das said the festival commemorates the love of God that exists in every living being, no matter their religious denomination.
Indian religion shares the same thrust toward spiritual purity promoted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Das said.
“You can come to the Himalayan Festival and experience some of the same concepts talked about at the Marriott Center,” he said.
Ayush Goyal, who has prepared a presentation on ancient Indian scientific values for the festival, illustrated this point.
“The most important thing is the family and your relationships with people, not money,” he said.
Goyal, who said he devoutly believes man did not evolve from apes as modern science suggests, will discuss the creation of man by god.
“Matter is not as real as finer elements such as consciousness,” he said.
*5th Annual Himalayan Festival
Admission: $3 for adults, $1 for children
8628 S. Main Street, Spanish Fork