It’s the “happiest 5K on the planet” and if you’ve been associated with just about any social networking site within the last two years you’ve probably seen multiple pictures of people smearing color powder all over their friends with huge smiles plastered on their faces. In fact, the array of colors covering the crisp white clothing worn by Color Run participants is enough to make any mother gasp in terror with the realization that there is no Tide TOGO bleach stick strong enough to get those stains out. However, the social buzz created by The Color Run has ostentatiously leaked color into the hearts of individuals everywhere. Regardless of the title, The Color Run is more than just color. The focus of The Color Run is to promote three core components of life which are healthiness, happiness, and individuality. This 5K isn’t about competition or your mile time, but rather a celebration of wellness and love. What most runners don’t know about the Color Run is that it stems from religious Hindu Roots.
In countries such as India and Nepal a Hindu festival called Holi is celebrated every year after the first full moon in March to celebrate the coming of spring and the fertility of land. Holi is a three day festival that allows all members of society to celebrate together regardless of race, color, and social status. On the third day of Holi women, men, and children wear white clothing and throw colored powders called aabir and gulal into the air and smear color onto their faces and bodies. Also, young people show respect to their elders by sprinkling color powder onto their elder’s feet. The celebration of Holi is linked to many mythological legends that are associated with the festival of colors.
One of the more popular myths behind the festival of Holi involves the immortal love of Lord Krishna and Radha. Krishna would complain to his mother about his skin color being so much darker than Radhas. Krishna’s mother then advised him to apply color to Radha’s skin and observe how her complexion changed. Images of Krishna and Radha are often carried through the streets during Holi celebrations.
So, the next time you put on your white sweat band and lace up your Nikes for The Color Run remember that this 5K represents more than just a work-out. The use of color in both The Color Run and the Holi festival provides individuals with a sense of unity and hope for a more prosperous tomorrow. The joy expressed in both of these celebrations allows people all around the world to come together though color and share a celebration of love and life. It doesn’t matter if you’re participating in The Color Run hosted in your city or traveling to India to celebrate Holi, the power of color reminds us that we are all connected no matter where we live.
Written by Kaley Funkhouser, Student Assistant in the Office of International Education