According to Hindu tradition, Holika, a demoness from Hindu scripture, had the power to walk through fire without perishing. Holika attempted to kill Prahlad in a fire with her ability. Prahlad chanted Vishnu’s name, a Hindu god, and was spared from the flames as Holika found her demise in the fire.
Prahlad’s triumph over Holika is remembered by Hindus as a victory for good over evil and the event is celebrated in the Holi Festival of Colors. Because of the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork, the event has exploded locally during the past few years. It attracted 8,000 visitors in 2008 and more than 50,000 people last year.
This year’s event is expected to be larger than ever and will begin Mar. 24.
The event has two main elements: a bonfire and a throwing of colors. Along with celebrating the triumph of good over evil, the Festival of Colors celebrates the change of seasons. The colors thrown represent the color brought with spring and the bonfire represents the heat of summer.
While the Festival of Colors is an event celebrated worldwide, Charu Das, the festival coordinator for the Spanish Fork temple, said the celebration in Spanish Fork may be the largest celebration of its type in the world. Das also said BYU students are one of largest groups in attendance on a yearly basis and estimates nearly one-third of BYU’s populace — 10,000 people — was in attendance last year.
Das believes a large turnout at the festival not only offers the opportunity for people to build their “vertical relationship” with God, but said it also provides a chance to enrich their “horizontal relationships” with people around them, no matter their religious affiliation or background. He believes while at the festival worries about work, school and other preoccupations can be left behind.
“Life simplifies itself during this period of the festival,” Das said.
Corey Dong, a senior from Pacific Grove, Calif., describes himself as a more moderate fan of the festival, but remembers his first experience at the celebration. Dong expected a large colorful cloud, but was surprised when the sky went completely dark immediately following the throwing.
“It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Dong said. “If you haven’t done it, it’s definitely worth checking out.”
Kristy Anderson, a recreational therapy major from Novi, Mich., enjoys the experience because of the diversity at the event.
“I just thought it was amazing how people from so many different backgrounds came together,” she said. “I think it was kind of cool to get a cultural experience that here in Provo it’s hard to get sometimes.”
This year’s event will include professional musicians and more colors will be available for purchase than in previous years. Admission is $2 and the corn-starch-based colored powder is available for purchase online or at the event. More information can be found online at utahkrishnas.org.