Festival of Colors to Brighten and Enlighten North Central Florida

by Gargs Allard

The annual Holi Festival of Colors will take place this year on April 2 from Noon to 4 PM at the Hare Krishna Temple in Alachua on CR 235 known as New Raman Reti.

We caught up with the always busy Festival Coordinator Manorama Das recently and got him to answer several questions about the upcoming festival.

How long has the festival gone on in Alachua?

Manu: This will be our fifth annual festival.

What is the origin of The Festival of Colors?

Holi Festival of Colors is a millennia-old Spring festival originating in India.

Is there a deeper esoteric meaning?

Holi celebrates the victory of good over evil, based on an ancient story that describes the fate of the demoness Holika who tried to kill the child saint Prahlad by burning him in fire, but was herself immolated while the saint emerged from the flames unscathed.

Holi Festival of Colors also reenacts the loving pastimes of Radha and Krishna, the Supreme Divine Couple in the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, who enjoyed throwing colored water, powders and flower petals at each other.

What takes place at the Festival?

Holi Festival of Colors is a music and arts festival where participants listen to live music, dance and merrily cover each other in a rainbow of colored powders. Communal color throws happen every half hour. On stage, bands play a range of uplifting music from mantra kirtan to pop, rock, reggae, bollywood and soul. Vegetarian food and refreshments will be for sale, including drinks, snacks, a full lunch plate for $8, snow cones, oven fired pizza, and fries. Bags of colored powder will be for sale (made from non-toxic corn starch, cosmetic dyes and fragrance) along with white t-shirts. There will also be a children’s activities tent.

What are some important do’s and dont’s for festival participants?

Do have fun in responsible, considerate ways, keeping the festival safe for all participants, including our children. Do wear glasses, goggles, face masks or bandanas to protect your eyes, nose and mouth during color throws. Do not aim directly at faces. Rather, after negotiating verbally or through eye contact and body language that it’s ok with the other person, gently sprinkle colors or rub on cheeks, arms, shoulders, backs.

No drugs, alcohol, smoking or outside colors are permitted at the festival, to keep the event safe and enjoyable for all.

What do you hope people will come away with after going to the festival?

Holi Festival of Colors serves as a great social equalizer, providing a good excuse for people from various backgrounds to cast aside their differences and just enjoy a joyful communal party covering strangers, friends and enemies in layers of colored powder. Once everyone looks equally a colorful mess and alike, we are reminded that beyond our external differences and designations we are one big human family who need to find more excuses like Holi Festival of Colors to come together and celebrate our unity in diversity.

Manorama Das

More Information from the site:

What is Holi?

Color your life and throw your worries to the wind! Holi Festival of Colors is an all-ages family friendly outdoor music and arts festival that brings people together in celebration of renewal, Spring, love, unity, community and the human spirit. Hosted at the Hare Krishna Farm for the fifth year in a row, this thousand-year old cultural festival originating from India has taken up roots in North Central Florida, spreading joyfulness to people across cultures and across the world.

The festival starts at noon on Sunday, April 2, 2017, and lasts until 4 pm. Live bands will be playing uplifting music from kirtan to folk, pop, rock, soul and EDM. There will be lots of dancing, singing and vegetarian food. Color throws every half hour. Children’s activity tent. Crafts vendors. Free Admission. Parking $10.

Checklist:

Be prepared to be covered from head to toe in a rainbow of colored powder. Dress accordingly. Bring cash for parking, colors, food and drinks. See FAQ below for details.

There’ll be a countdown to a group color throw every half hour from 12 noon through 4 pm. Bring sunglasses, bandanas or dust masks to cover your nose and mouth during these times to minimize breathing in corn starch. If you’re asthmatic, stand off to the sides. Don’t wear contact lenses, bring glasses instead. (We’ll have running water close by should you need to rinse your eyes.)

Please keep children supervised at all times, especially during color throws. There will be a children’s activity tent.

Do not throw colors into people’s eyes or mouths. Instead, gently sprinkle colors onto other festival goers and ask if you may smear some on their cheeks, neck, shoulders, back or arms.

Live bands will be playing a selection of good music throughout the event. Be prepared to dance, dance, dance, and sing along.

Bring a change of clothes, a plastic bag to store your colored clothes, and a sheet or plastic cover for your car seats for the way home. Please read the FAQ below for more info on what not to bring. Don’t forget your radiant smile and get ready to have a whole lotta colorful fun!

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