Holi color festivals in the U.S. happen year-round, unlike those in India that tie the traditional Hindu celebration to the day after the full moon in March. This year most in India will mark the festival on March 13.
A Utah temple that organizes 11 major color fests in the West between March and October sees it this way: Any time can be a good time for spiritual growth, revitalization and, let’s face it, pure silliness.
“We want to use the festival and the springtime idea as a metaphor for transformation … throwing off of the old and accepting the new,” said Caru Das, a priest at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah.
And he should know.
His temple set the standard for color-hurling fests in the U.S. — “bridging the gap between East and West” — more than two decades ago. The two-day festival at the Utah temple last year drew 37,000 people, many of them Mormons. It will be held March 25 and 26 this year.
“There are no drugs, no alcohol, and the celebration of the spirit resonates with them,” Das said.
The temple’s Holi Festival of Colors USA comes to the L.A. area on Saturday at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area in South El Monte, Sunset Park in Las Vegas on April 15 and Woodley Park in Van Nuys on May 13.
How does it all work? Many come wearing white so they can preserve their chalk-covered attire — at least for a while. No “outside” colors are allowed; nontoxic powders are sold by the festival.
If you buy in advance online, expect to pay $5.25 for admission (kids get in free) and $12.50 for five color packets. (It’s not OK to throw colors in people’s mouths or eyes, just so you know.) You can expect to hear all kinds of music too, including hip-hop, rap, rock ’n’ roll and reggae.
Other sites around the country have picked up on the giddy Holi fun too.
The city of Redmond, Wash., will hold its annual free color fest on March 18. The Bay Area also celebrates in Milpitas, Calif., on March 18 in an event sponsored by the nonprofit Rajasthan Assn. of North America, which is dedicated to promoting the Indian state’s culture. New Yorkers can converge on Governors Island on May 6 for Holi Hai, also free.