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Friday, March 12, 2010

Holi 2010 at JKP Barsana Dham

Holi At Barsana Dham

Jagadguru Shree Kripalu MaharajClouds of colored powder flew past me from all directions. Avoiding the splashes of color, I darted across the grounds, attempting to find my friends, but to no avail—everyone was covered in the same fusion of red, pink, yellow, orange, green, and purple. I was frustrated, but I couldn’t help but smile after a complete stranger smeared red powder on my face, whilst exclaiming “Holi Hai!”

I guess that’s what Holi is all about, and this year’s event, held at Barsana Dham, lived up to all expectations. Holi, the Festival of Colors, is traditionally celebrated by participants throwing rang (colored powder) on one another. In a more modern interpretation, rang is thrown to symbolically eliminate differences of color, race, or religion, and to encourage everyone to celebrate together. While connecting people of different races through color seems slightly oxymoronic, the atmosphere created at Barsana Dham proved otherwise—over three thousand people of various backgrounds excitedly ran around the large courtyard, their color-stained hands reaching deviously into their recently-acquired bags of rang, eyeing their next victim.

Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj Holi

While I was unable to attend the entire event, the festivites began at 3 pm with a special Holi satsang, followed by aarti. After this was dinner, which was prepared by several dedicated devotees. As I overheard one aunty say to another, arrangements for the meal began the day before with devotees cooking from 9 am to 4 pm, anxiously awaiting the large crowd of attendees. After the distribution of rang, attendees danced to the melody of Holi songs, accompanied by the rhythm of the dholak3.Their infectious smiles, which for certain unlucky individuals were as multicolored as their faces, gleamed long after the sun had set.

In the distance was the Holi fire, which represented the burning of the demoness, Holika. According to Hindu folklore, King Hiranyakashipu, envious of his son Prahalad’s devotion to Lord Vishnu, decided to kill his son using the help of his sister, Holika, who was immune to fire. However, through the intervention of Vishnu, Prahalad was unarmed, and Holika was scorched, reduced to ashes. Like many other Hindu festivals, Holi also signifies the victory of good over evil.

Plan II Professor, Jerome Bump, of the Department of English makes it a tradition to invite his students to Barsana Dham’s Holi celebration each year. “I have always emphasized that the best education is study abroad and Holi at Barsana Dham gives students a taste of that, with all the Hindi spoken in the temple, the ceremonies, the food, and of course the primarily Indian congregation. India is particularly important in my classes as the source of the religions that cherish animals, plants, and the environment the best: Hinduism, Buddhism, and especially Jainism. These religions challenge the basic Western attitudes toward other species and exemplify a tolerance for diversity we need to emulate.”

I was amazed at how effectively the Barsana Dham staff and volunteers handled the chaos of Holi. While their rang reservoir was quickly depleted, this did not deter attendees from staying to sing, dance, and celebrate. Thousands of people splattered the temple grounds with two hundred fifty pounds of rang, but in a matter of a few hours, the area returned to its calm, serene ambiance.

Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat (JKP) was founded by Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj, our beloved Shree Maharajji, the fifth prime Jagadguru in the last 5000 years.

Founded in 1990 by H. D. Swami Prakashanand Saraswati, the Barsana Dham Temple and ashram campus serves as the national center of Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat in the United States and is one of the largest Hindu temples in North America.

Pictures of JKP Barsana Dham Holi 2010

Devotees of Jagadguru Kripalu Maharaj
Devotees of Jagadguru Kripalu Maharaj
Devotees of Jagadguru Kripalu Maharaj
Devotees of Jagadguru Kripalu Maharaj
Devotees of Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj
Devotees of Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj
Devotees of Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj
Devotees of Jagadguru Kripaluji Maharaj

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