To many of you, that might sound like a great name for a children's book. Actually, I think it IS a great name for a children's book. But for a good billion plus people, Holi is the celebration of the coming of Spring. It's generally a Hindu celebration, and we're lucky! We have a Hindu temple within a couple of hours in Spanish Fork, Utah. (A little deviation here...why in the world would they choose Spanish Fork, Utah!?!?!)
Anyway, a good friend of mine went last year and made a documentary on it (there are so many interesting things all around us!) and I thought it looked fantastic. Another friend of mine reminded me on Tuesday-ish that it was on Saturday this year. I decided I had to go and experience it, so I told some other friends and we trekked down there. Well, actually, everybody was *supposed* to meet us there. Zacharia and I trekked down ourselves.
We realized that once we got past Provo that there was going to be a TON of people there. You see, traffic was getting worse, not better, and we passed two major accidents involving halves of about 5 or 6 cars. Ouch. The Spanish Fork exit had a line about a mile long, so we decided to go to the Benjamin exit, which, as we soon found out, had only a line a half-mile long. There were cars parked EVERYWHERE near the Krishna temple, and it was quite evident that this was more popular than we'd ever imagined.
Another deviation...I have never given Utah County the benefit of the doubt for anything, which has usually proved to be advantageous and even true. However, I was mega-impressed that such a counter-(to-Utah-County's-)cultural event could thrive, let alone survive, in such a place. Kudos, Utah Countians, you have brownie points in my book.
Holi concludes with a great throwing of 'coloured chalk.' I use quotes because once upon a time (2001), a study was released pointing to the toxicity of the chalk. It was bad news, so now it's colored (and fragranced, I may add) cornstarch.
Regardless, when Zacharia and I showed up, the emcee was trying to get everyone ready to throw the chalk at once. He said that the chalk was sold out (!), and on ten everyone would throw the chalk up at once. Zach and I ran into the crowd and prepared ourselves--pulling out shirts over our mouths and noses.
As the countdown hit one, something absolutely awe-inspiring happened. It was immediately dark all around for a slight instant, and then the cloud that surrounded us turned pink. Yellows, blues, purples, reds, greens started streaking the inside of the cloud. Zach was two feet away from me and I lost sight of him for a moment. You could see no sun, yet you knew it was somewhere, actually as a giant key light being diffused to all inside the cloud.
The cloud lasted for approximately 2 minutes. They also put sandalwood into the chalk, so it smelled amazing. You didn't want to breath, but then you did. After two minutes, we emerged from the mosh and made our way up to the temple, absolutely exhilarated from the experience. It was awesome!
We finished the day with some good hot Indian food, met up with the friends who were supposed to make it (they eventually did and were jealous of our coloration), and generally enjoyed the positive atmosphere that such cultural events radiate.
I really appreciated the Hindi faith for opening their doors to allow the general population to celebrate with them. As the emcee announced that this was the largest Holi gathering in North America, ever, I was filled with happiness to think that so many people were there with little disrespecting the celebration's faith. There were some, obviously,--in a group with numbers nearing 3000, there are bound to be reckless and stupid people--but I was pleased nonetheless.
I also invite anybody to plan to come with next year. I promise it won't disappoint!!