Parliament of the World’s Religions: Music, dance and song bring a harmonious close to five days of interfaith dialogue

Jai Krishna leads his band, Ananda Groove, during the Holi, chanting songs as one of the closing events at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City. (Jenna Barratt)

Holi, the Festival of Colors, was on display Monday inside the Salt Palace as one of the final events at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

The festival lacked the bright chalk dust to smear the crowd in a whirl of colors that Utahns have become accustomed to seeing, but the colors of interfaith dialogue were evident in the music, singing and dancing.

Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of the world. The modern-day Holi festival aspires to bring the peoples of the world together in love and consciousness of God.

Utah’s annual Festival of Colors, held at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, draws thousands of Utahns annually.

As a summation of the Parliament’s goal to create harmony and dialogue between people of all faiths, the Holi festival seemed an appropriate ending to the five-day interfaith conference.

“Sometimes people don’t realize that spirituality can be fun,” said Jai Krishna, lead singer of the band Ananda Groove. “But it can and it should!”

The band — which is connected to the Krishna temple in Spanish Fork — played an assortment of Holi “peace songs” and even a few modern selections.  It was among the last of dozens of musical performances at the Parliament, which included another crowd-pleasing concert by Utah’s One Voice Children’s Choir on Sunday.

“The Holi teaching is that there is a spiritual world, and in that world every step is a dance and every word is a song,” Krishna said.

Within 30 minutes of the band’s first song, several Parliament participants were on their feet dancing along with the music.

“Salt Lake City can dance!” Krishna exclaimed as the Conga line turned into a dance circle in the Salt Palace entrance.

Even though there was no colored chalk dust in the Salt Palace, the participants performed a mock color throw, “throwing their aura into the air.”

The event was a celebration of harmony between all people no matter religion, ethnicity or personal background. Old, young, male and female from multiple religious backgrounds — all danced together, each with a smile on his or her face.

“The Holi festival just made me feel happy and connected to everyone here,” said Danielle Avaerett from Salt Lake City. “I think it was a great ending to the Parliament because it helped promote inter-religious harmony by getting people to come together and realize that we are one.”

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