Holi – The Festival of Colors

The three of us, Cindy, Natalie and I have a strange relationship with this Indian festival of color. Natalie and I have been to a local festival, it is making and appearance in a novel the three of us are writing together, and we’re all planning on going to the festival this year. For some reason, it speaks to our collective soul.

Imagine our surprise when a follower contacted us and asked to write about it for the blog. We were thrilled. Anuj Kumar lets us in on the beauty and meaning of this fun celebration of life, spring, and human togetherness.Holi

Holi – The Festival of Colors

Holi began as a festival celebrated, like many others, as a commemoration of a mythical event. For some, it signifies the victory of good over evil, and for others, the celebration of love. It is one of the few Indian festivals which has widespread international appeal.

Holi-OneThis is probably because of how inclusive and simple the revelry is. It involves throwing colored powder and water on pretty much everyone celebrating. There’s no competition, no rules, just pure countrywide enjoyment – which means hundreds of millions of people taking part at the same time!

Holi is one of the most famous Indian festivals, with major celebrations happening in over ten countries. These include India’s neighbors like Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, as well as countries around the world like the UK, USA, Guyana, Suriname, and South Africa.

These countries have large Indian populations that celebrate it, and the local population joins in. The inclusiveness of the festivities has helped it spread beyond India’s borders, by bringing in a spirit of oneness and equality. In fact, some new countries even have their own ways to celebrate Holi, adding to the gamut of traditions that make up this now international festival.

As much as it has spread, the merriment cannot match the massive scale at which it is celebrated in India. As such, there are many Indians outside that miss the unbridled spirit behind the revelry, just as much as they miss their loved ones back home. There are, however, workarounds coming up. Smartphone apps like iHoli allow them to take photos of themselves, and add splashes and smears of color, and send these colored photos to loved ones!holi10

Though it’s based on Hindu mythology, it has the power to bring people of all religions together, in ways unlike any of its counterparts. It’s only a matter of time before Holi is as ubiquitous the biggest festivals of the world, with it’s new, unique traditions mushrooming as communities make it their own.

Anuj Kumar is an app-freak. He is very keen to try out the new exciting apps. Be it Windows, iOS or Android – all the platforms are a matter of interest to him.”

Beltane

bonfire

This has been a long time in coming. We’ve promised, several times, to let you know what it was that we have learned this summer. We’ve all been so busy applying what we’ve learned that we haven’t actually had time to write about it on the blog. (Although, there has been PLENTY of writing about it.)

Our lessons came in a few, somewhat insane, highly symbolic, events.

By the end of winter, all of us had become aware of significant doubt, pain, and regrets that we each felt within our hearts. It was a difficult winter for each of us in different ways. Our desolation and heartache were keeping us from becoming who we needed to be. We had lost ourselves somewhere in the past. All of us could see it in the others, but somehow missed it in ourselves.

Natalie came to us with the notion of Beltane (Pronounced: BEY-al-TIN-ah). It’s a Celtic holiday which celebrates the coming of summer and new growth. We didn’t need the growth of crops, however, we needed to expand our souls. We needed to let the things from the past fall away, and to encourage our spirits to move on to the next part of who we were to become.

We formed a plan. In the weeks leading up to Beltane, we each thought about what we wanted most in life. We were to gather pictures of the things we wanted most and put them in a vision board, the desires of our inner selves made manifest in photos.

Our vision boards became a topic of discussion every time we were together. It wasn’t unusual to hear, “Ooo! I want to put that on mine!” Nor, was it unusual for us to stalk people, houses, and things, snap pictures, and find a place for it on our vision board. The beauty of this exercise was that we were limited only by our imaginations. (With a group of writers, imagination is abundant.)

Traditionally, there would be a bonfire at a Beltane. We decided that we would write down those things which we needed to let go, past injuries, regrets, unhealthy desires and we would throw the list into the fire. We wanted to begin letting go of the negativity in our lives by watching it go up in smoke – literally.

It was all wonderfully planned.

However, something was missing.

We needed to do something symbolic to remind ourselves to let our dreams grow, to pay attention to the whisperings of our souls. My Aunt, who is in tune with our little group even though she lives in Wales, suggested that we plant our vision board in a pot and let it nourish a plant. Our dreams would feed the plant just as they feed us. As we tended to the life of the plant, we would be reminded to tend to our dreams, keeping them alive as well.

The day of our celebration came.

We lit a small fire and watched the flames ripple upward. We sat is silence. Each of us took a moment to reflect and release the sadness and suffering that had been plaguing us for decades. When we were ready, we tossed our list of troubles into the fire, watching the light catch hold of the the list. The paper blazed brightly, then turned to black ash, the fire easily dissolving our problems in its power.

Something similar happened in our souls as we watched them burn. It was as if a fire was rekindled in our own hearts. One that could envelope and destroy agony, defeat, and sorrow and empower us to LIVE.

It’s strange how one action, when done in the right moment, with the right people, can instil you with ancient knowledge, knowledge that has always been there waiting for you to see it.

We sat in silence for a few moments, lost in the freedom of purging such darkness from within ourselves.

One of us asked whether the others wanted to share our dreams. A discussion, which has never quite ended, began that night. We discussed our desires, and the things we felt that we were supposed to accomplish in this life. There were tears, encouragement and beauty as we began to realize all that we wanted lay at our fingertips. We came to understand that we were born to succeed.

The light began to die down and it came time to plant young, fresh, lavender with our vision boards. The soil seemed to clean our hearts as we gently tucked our vision in among the roots.

We departed in the enchantment that only comes in a May evening.

In the months since, we have continued to believe in ourselves. Something happened that night, an openness that was not there before. We know where we are going, we have faith in each other and in ourselves.

This was the beginning of the Summer of Magic. We have had to renew our commitment to our dreams. Occasionally had to readjust our lives to get back in line with what we want. But that night, among fire, soil and the beauty that is May, we gave ourselves over to what we could become.

There is power in letting go.

There is magic.

There is freedom.

There is love.

There is completeness.

MagicColor4

Fragment Friday

We have some exciting news! Each Friday we will be sharing a small portion of our writing with you. We’ll have essays, fiction, articles, poems…everything. We encourage you to provide feedback. Tell us where you think the story is going to go. Let us know what we did right, what we could do together, what you liked and what you didn’t.

Tonight I am sharing with you a short piece of a story I began about 7 months ago.

Yellow

Luke leaned his aging body over a monstrous engine tightening a bolt into place. He sighed, put his hands inside the pockets of his overalls and starred at the machine for a moment before he retrieved a tiny notebook, opened it and checked several figures.

He went to the glass container filled with a clear yellowish liquid and opened a valve. The Lukefluid dripped slowly into the machine. Tiny bubbles floated up through the liquid bursting as they came to the top.

Walking around to a key and a large red button, Luke simultaneously turned the key and pushed the button. The engine coughed and then produced a constant rumbling growl.

Luke yelled with enthusiasm and despite his age leapt into the air.

“I’ve done it!” he said in his thick Irish accent as he turned to his basset hound. “Do you smell that? It’s clean and sweet. We’ve made it, boy! We’ve made it!”

The dog answered by wagging his tail and rolling to his back.

Luke turned off the machine and yelled over to his lounging puppy. “Hey, boy, let’s go make a phone call.” He climbed the creaking stairs which were coated with flaking, waxy residue.

The dog, realizing he wasn’t going to get his belly rubbed followed his master up the stairs.

Luke dialed his nephew’s number, forgetting to check what time it would be on the east coast of the United States.

“Hello?” a groggy female voice came across the phone.

Paradise Found

Rough trail leading to a seclysed campsite. Boats bobbing up and down on the lake.

Crystal clear water.campsites

 

Searing sunlight.

 

Smoke and pine sap.

Cool, clean air.

 

Crackling fire. Yelling and laughter. Hissing and fading voices.

 

How long will this paradise last? When will I have to leave?Indian_Lake_Campground_004

 

Calmed by the natural beauty. Overjoyed that it lasted. Sad to leave.

 

Lasting paradise. Lasting paradise. Lasting paradise.

 

By: Bradin Hodgson

 

Bradin Hodgson is 14. He lives in Utah. Bradin enjoys playing baseball and reading. Bradin is working hard to attend BYU after graduation.

 

 

Weird Cats I Know

There once was a cat,

Named Pickerie Pat,

Who didn’t believe in Santa.

There once was a cat,

A weird-o in fact,

Named I Like To Pee In My Pantsa.

Now one faithful day,

When these two cats met,

They met up with Pablo and Pattie Purr Pet.

What’s weird to you,

I think is fine.

Those cats are all mine.

 cats

By: Erin Jones: Hi! I’m Erin and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE cats so much. When I got the idea of typing stories and stuff I couldn’t wait to type cat stories. But when I read a Dr. Seuss book that had the best little poems in it I couldn’t wait to type a cat poem. One crazy thing is I’m only 7 ½! Crazy, huh? So one day when I was working on my 2nd cat story I remembered the little poems and rhymes that made me want to write little poems and rhymes, too. Sense I couldn’t get cats and weird stuff off my mind I had to write a poem about cats. Bye!

lotusWelcome to our new home.

Our writer’s group is excited to be able to move over to WordPress, offer help to other writers and hopefully spread around some joy and a few good stories.

We have some exciting things planned for the upcoming year including more fiction, some writing advice and opportunities to hear from other writers. We want this to be a true (and yet virtual) community where we can share ideas, resources and friendship with other writers.

With that in mind, I have an invitation…

Have you frameever been to a place where everyone is equal? A place where race, religion, economic status, physical appearance and abilities don’t matter? A place where it is safe to just be you.

Natalie and I experienced that at the Holi Festival at the Sri Sri Radah Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah last year. The Holi Festival is a Hindu celebration of spring.

We arrived at the ornate temple after parking our car at a local high school. Where we were herded onto a school bus and taken to the temple amongst a throng of people, most of them dressed in white to make the colors stand out on their clothing.

As we enteredmeaghan the temple grounds, a sweet scent became evident on the breeze. Something soft hit me in the chest. I looked down to see a streak of orange across my shirt. A young woman stood smiling at me. Before I could say anything she ran off to join her friends in laughter.

We made our way to the top of a small hill and were met with a crowd of multicolored humans some of them on the outskirts of the celebration, some right in the middle of it.

babyNatalie and I were soon covered in colorful powder as the celebrators noticed the “fresh blood” entering the festivities. The revelry was contagious and we soon joined the mass in covering our fellow humans in bright pinks, oranges, blues, yellows and greens.

Out of breath and smiling, I climbed the temple stairs to view the mass of humanity from a different perspective. The air was thick with powder around the crowd. Music from a rock band pounded its way through the mass while people danced. Laughter could be heard everywhere. Then I noticed something else – a spirit of connectedness. There were so many people and unlike any other celebration I’ve ever been to, everyone was a part of everything. It didn’t matter who was there, simply by existing, they were a part of that huge celebration of spring.mouse

I was amazed at the number and variety of people. There were families, couples, lovers, the young and the old, hippies, yuppies, every race, every creed…you name it, there was a member from every facet of society. The Holi Festival brought us all together and made us all equal. All of us were covered in sweet smelling powder and all of us smiling. For a moment all pretense was removed and we were a human family. Spring and the Holi Festival brought us all together for a weekend.

crowd2

That is what we want to have with our blog this month. Once again it is spring and the Holi Festival is upon us in Spanish Fork. So in the spirit of the celebration, we want to invite our friends, followers and family to provide a guest post on our blog this month. Anything goes. Our goal is to have a post every Monday through Thursday for the month of March. If you are a writer or a dreamer or you just feel the inklings of spring moving you, email your submission to lori.king322@gmail.compillar. Every one is welcome, including children, (sometimes they’re the best) and all posts will be considered. The only thing we ask is that you keep your post clean and polite.

So welcome to the new blog and may spring find you at peace, happy, healthy and surrounded by people you love.

Natalie, Cindy and Lori

 

 

Photos of Holi Festival were provided by Samantha Chapman.

samSamantha Chapman is an aspiring photographer from the beautiful state of Maine. She currently resides in Clearfield, Utah where she spends her time cooking amazing food for and scheming shenanigans with her two super awesome kids, her BFFF and other members of her Security Council, a very handsome and hilarious Scotsman, and some amazing friends and family. She is happy to sell any of the photos she takes while out and about on one of her adventures, or photograph your friends and family on an adventure of your own!