PROVO — Members of the Hindu faith gathered together over the weekend to celebrate the colorful tradition of Holi. Holi celebrates the beginning of spring, and urges individuals to turn negative thoughts into positive energy. This rich tradition is celebrated in March on the last day before the full moon. In South Jordan, dozens attended a Holi festival held by the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah.
Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah
Sri Ganesha member, Niraja Bhachech, says that Holi is all about the “victory of positive over negative.” The festival starts off with a fire ceremony representing this victory. Priests sing ancient hymns while burning offerings to the deity of Vishnu.
Bhachech says, “When we do the fire puja, we go around the fire and we offer something to the fire to signify burning all of our negative energy.”
The festival-goers march in a circle, each taking turns pouring a handful of coconut powder into the dancing flames. “Fire is like a messenger that can communicate directly with God,” says temple vice president, Narendra Padya. These offerings are believed to get rid of bad thoughts and omens.
Burnt offerings in Holi ritual (CNN)
Once the fire burns out, the second part of Holi begins. Member, Balaji Sudabattula, says, “In India we have a spring where the trees are a multitude of colors, and we welcome the spring by playing with these colors.”
The participants throw brightly pigmented chalk to signify these spring colors. This chalk is known traditionally as gulal. Bhachech says that this color-throwing ritual pleases Lord Vishnu. She says that the purpose of Holi is to “color everybody with the colors that are purely full of joy and happiness.”
The colorful chalk is known as gulal (CNN)
Pandya says that Holi celebrates love and unity. He says, “You color yourself. You put colors in a way that there is no difference of skin. There is no brown skin, white skin or any skin difference.”
In India, the bright colors blur the line between caste systems and everyone is viewed as equal. Sudabattula says, “This is a time where people come together without division of class, creed, rich, poor. There is no distinction. Everybody comes into the streets and just has fun.”
If you are interested in attending a Holi, there will be a Festival of Colors held at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple later this month. You can purchase tickets here: http://www.festivalofcolorsusa.com/festival-of-colors/festival-colors-spanish-fork-ut/