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A colorful weekend that I can’t quite wash out of my hair

April 1st, 2011 Posted in Opinion

Column and Photos by Emily Landeen

SPANISH FORK, Utah—I have never purposely dyed my hair, and yet for the last few days it has had a strange pink tint to it. This is thanks to my weekend at the Holi Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork, an annual event and part of the Indian Hindu tradition.

My experience, while perhaps not quite as religious as those of the Hindu faith, was still a blast of color.

The Holi Festival is a celebration of the passing of winter and the beginning of spring. I must say that my biggest worry heading down to Spanish Fork was that it was going to snow.

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The morning of the festival was sunny with a few clouds. My group wanted to arrive at the festival earlier in the day to salvage the beautiful weather before winter returned. Having spent the night in Pleasant Grove, we had only a 20-minute drive.

The festival organizers announced on their website that the colored chalk would start flying every two hours starting at 11 o’clock. We wanted to make the 1 p.m. throwing.

We parked at Salem High School at about 12:20 and decided to walk to the Sri Sri Krishna Temple grounds rather than wait for the shuttle. Thirty minutes of walking, along with some running, later, we made it to the temple. We could hear the music from outside the grounds and quickly went to buy our bags of colored chalk.

With only a minute before the throwing, we ran toward the middle of the crowd. Then in one great countdown, hundreds of people grabbed fistfuls of colorful chalk powder and threw it up into the clean air.

Looking up, I could see the individual colors melt into a murky brown before I closed my eyes and felt it fall onto me like a thick mist, covering everything from the top of my head to the front of my shirt and the inside of my lungs.

I pulled my shirt over my face, but I was still breathing it in, and started to cough and laugh at the same time. My friends and I made our way to the outskirts of the crowd, and once we all were breathing oxygen again the real fun started.

We started painting each other with colors, telling the human canvasses to close their eyes and mouth to get a little more color on their faces. Once we ran out of chalk, we pulled out the camera, which had been enclosed in a chalk-proof case, and made our way to the balcony of the temple, where throwing chalk was prohibited. After taking some snapshots we looked at the festival taking place all around the temple grounds.

To the south was a huge canopy where chalk was being sold, and a food stand where festival-goers could buy authentic Indian food. A long line of multi-colored people stood in line at a photo booth to capture their colorful day. To the east of the temple was probably the most interesting sight—a stage where musicians played music that was less Indian than American, with the word “Krishna” inserted a lot. On the floor was the mosh pit, a place I never ventured, where the occasional crowd-surfers rolling over waves of people and a few jets of chalk streamed upward before melting away.

Eventually, after making sure every part of our bodies was covered with color, we’d had enough of the love and peace of the Holi Festival for the coming of spring.

As we headed out, the clouds were beginning to roll in, and knew we had made the right decision in coming early. Not wanting our cars to be as colorful as our clothes, we put garbage bags on the seats. Stopping once for fast food, we got some strange looks from other customers.

By the time I got home, it felt like I had been camping for a week. After shampooing my hair four times and washing my face twice, my body was still more ginger-colored than I wished. The shower also had a certain rosy glow to it.

I have scrubbed my tub twice and shampooed my hair countless times more, but my weekend at the Krishna Temple won’t soon be forgotten. Which is just the way I like it.


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  1. 2 Responses to “A colorful weekend that I can’t quite wash out of my hair”

  2. By Indian on Apr 12, 2011

    It was amazing to see this. Indian festivals are amazing and are popular all over the globe. Holi, Diwali are some of the great festivals of India that are celebrated with great pomp and gaiety.

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  2. Apr 1, 2011: Hard News Cafe » Blog Archive » Thousands fling colors into the sky to celebrate spring Holi Festival

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