The many colors of Hinduism
Revelers celebrate the springtime with clouds of chalk in Spanish Fork
Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News7/8
A fusion of colors exploded on the east side of the majestic white Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork Saturday evening as thousands celebrated the Festival
of Colors, one of the most important Hindu holidays of the year.
To rejoice in the coming of spring and the victory of good over evil, natives of India, Hindus, Utah County residents and BYU students chucked bags of purple, green, pink, yellow, blue and silver chalk at each other.
"It was really intense," said Cristine Vallone, who moved to Provo nine months ago. "You couldn't breathe at all, but it was really fun though. It was just a blinding mess of color."
For 15 minutes the crowd was lost in a pink-tinged cloud after people began to toss colors.
The throwing of the colors "is to signify that people are the same," said Marish Bansal, a native of India. "Nobody is bigger or smaller. We are all children of God."
This symbolism of unity takes place after burning the effigy of an evil demoness, which represents the victory of good over evil. The religious meaning of the festival runs deep for Hindus.
The festival "is a very big part of the religion," said Rajnikant Shalma, a Hindu from India. "It's good for friendship. Even if you are enemies on that day you are friends."
Shalma has been in the U.S. for seven months and is studying to get his Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering at BYU. In his native Jaipur, Shalma said he and his friends would gather and go to their neighbors' houses to put color on them but said he likes "the idea of everyone gathering at the temple" for the celebration.
Inside the upper room of the temple the religious side of the festival is more visible. On the south wall stands a miniature temple carved of wood with statues of Hindu gods inside. There members of the faith worship, bowing their heads and placing red paint on the center of their foreheads.
Heather Yates and husband David joined in the worship, although Yates said they didn't totally understand the meaning of it.
"I think it's really beautiful," Yates, a BYU student, said. "They were just worshipping at the shrine and you could tell it was really important for them. I think it is awesome that they are so open in allowing people to worship with them."
Another important expression of worship at the festival is dancing. An Indian woman with her hair plaited in a long tight braid moves deftly across the stage. She steps carefully with red-painted feet in time to the chiming of the music. Her red-tinged fingers flair fanlike and move swiftly to take another shape.
Dancer Puja Allepalli's movements are a prayer to God Krishna asking him to extend his mercy to his worshippers.
Allepalli is a native of India, who lives in Denver, and has been dancing since she was 4. This is her first year at the festival of colors in Spanish Fork."I was so excited to be here because in Denver there are not any holy celebrations," Allepalli said. "This is just like being back in India; people with color all over their faces and people rejoicing in the true spirit."
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