Every year the Hare Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah, USA puts on the biggest Holi celebration in the Western Hemisphere. In 2011 the Spanish Fork Police department estimated that over 40,000 people attended in the first day alone of the two-day festival, starting on the 27th of March. Organizers carefully rationed their stash of approximately 120,000 bags of colored powder.
Attendees come from all over the country (and some from abroad), but the majority of attendees are students from Brigham Young, Utah Valley, and Utah universities.
Holi celebrates the triumph of good over evil and ushers in the spring season. The festival commemorates a Hindu myth about a witch who burned children in a fire. One child repeated the Hare Krishna mantra as he was carried into the flames and the witch was burned instead. At the Spanish Fork festival, rock and roll, R&B, and other modern interpretation of the mantra are played by musicians throughout the day and chanted in a call and response game between performers and attendees. The main event of each festival is the coordinated throwing of colored powder, when the sky above the crowd is filled with rainbow puffs of dye.
The event was covered by many American national and local media, such as Channel 2 TV, FOX 13, Brigham Young University Newspaper, Times of India, Provo Daily Herald, KSL TV Channel 5, Channel 2 TV Pre Holi Morning News, ABC TV Channel 4 Pre Holi Morning News, Salt Lake City Weekly Pre Coverage.
A series of photos published by photoblog.msnbc.msn.com sparked a fiery conversation among the bloggers. Some of their comments:
"It is amazing what people will do to have joy when all the really need is Jesus."
"You know, christianty is not the only religon that celebrates life and love. Last time i checked christians don`t have a holiday as joyous and awesome as this!"
"It appears to be some kind of Pagan practice. I wouldn't wonder why the U.S. is battered by "Mother Nature" and "Global Warming".
"Its Hinduism you nitwit, not Pagan. It was here a looooooooong time before Christianity. Also, Pagan doesn't mean "not Christian" although many, many, many Christian beliefs and practices are rooted in Paganism. Just saying."
"Now EVERYONE in here needs to calm the *** down!! I happen to be a Christian and I was there today. It was breathtaking, it was exciting, it was everything but an open call to convert to Hinduism.
The people gathered there today and yesterday for a few simple things...some to worship, some to have fun, some to gather in peace, and some just to have the chance to throw powder in their friend's faces (that would be me).
If you have something against people peacefully gathering to do as they wish, then stop going to church, to concerts, or anything else that is greater than yourself.
For those of you who were on here acting like a bunch of ***, keep in mind that this is in Utah County, Utah... one of the most conservative communities in the nation, home to one of the most dense Christian populations in the world, and BYU. If you think for one second that a pagan ritual is being celebrated in public, you had better think again."
To see more photos and read more comments visit: http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/26/6352279-more-images-of-the-hindu-festival-holi-but-this-time-from-utah
Watch video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqsRFAJVN9c&feature=player_embedded