Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Hindu Experience in Utah

The Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple: A Hindu Experience in Utah
April 6, 2010

Though it may seem that Utah has a less-than-dynamic cultural milieu, occasionally a place or an event will challenge that sentiment. Such is the case with the Sri Sri Radha Krishna temple located right off of Main Street in Spanish Fork, Utah.

Read whole article...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Om Shanti Retreat Videos

Here are two 10 minute videos with segments of the OM Shanti Retreat Aporil 16 - 18th. They include Friday evening music & mixer, Saturday llama hike & kirtan with Jai Krishna, yoga with Alan Siegel, & cooking class taught by Mina Kumar.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring 2010 Retreat Wrap Up

Sunday around 2 pm we were reluctant to say goodbye to all our new friends from the Retreat Weekend. We met amazing people and heard fascinating stories. Happy trails, until we meet again. Below are some comments, and ratings for the various activities.

“The weekend far exceeded my expectations. I learned a lot about yoga and am excited to do more. The presentation of yoga as a tool toward heightened spirituality was appreciated. I loved meeting everyone and, as Caru mentioned in the beginning, the relationships were what I will cherish most and take with me. I’m getting everyone’s contact information.” Randy Salt Lake City

“I really liked the opportunity to get to know the people & share experiences with each other. Even though we’ve all been different places, learned different things, and accomplished different things, it really felt like we were all just friends and fellow travelers, sharing a bit of the road together. I just want to mention that it's always been a dream of mine to have a homestead where friends, strangers, and travelers would be welcome to stay as long as they need, and rest from their stressful situations for as long as it takes them to find inner strength again. It seems to me that your temple and grounds proved that such a thing is possible, and I found it very refreshing. I would like to pattern my future home or hospice close to what I have seen and experienced this past weekend.”
Naarah, Provo

“Would like to take a longer retreat/4-5 days/this seemed too short. Will always recommend to others.” Bonnie, Salt Lake City

“I am going to recommend this retreat to my friends. The weekend was calming & relaxing. I would like more explanation re philosophy & background. Everyone was very helpful. Caru & Vai were excellent hosts & very informative - also they seem to radiate serenity, peace, & acceptance. I had fun & plan on returning. The food was delicious. I enjoyed the tour & chanting very much.” Kathy, Salt Lake City

“The retreat was not what I expected - it was better. I liked the relaxed nature of the retreat & the interaction with the other participants. The yoga was fantastic - I especially enjoyed the outdoor yoga. i would absolutely recommend this retreat, and plan on attending again! Very welcoming respectful atmosphere also.” Claire, Salt Lake City

“I had a great time. Everybody was very friendly.” Marissa, Provo

“It was wonderful. I would recommend to others. Thank you so Much.” Jenny, SLC

“The retreat exceeded my expectations. It is now my home away from home. The staff was friendly & accommodation. They make you feel as if you are family. My needs were always met with a smile. I would recommend this retreat to everyone. It was fun, educational & very peaceful. I feel renewed & refreshed. Thank you.” Laurie, Long Island

These are the average ratings of 9 respondents based on the scale 1 to 5. 1 is Very Dissatisfied and 5 is Very Satisfied.

Mina Cooking Class 4.9
Alan Yoga Classes 4.9
Buffet Meals 4.6
Accommodation 4.6
Caru Cooking Class 4.6
Candlelight meditation 4.6
Hiking 4.5
Gita Class 4.4
Saturday Kirtan 4.3

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One of the Fabulous 50

Caru Das was named with 49 others in the March 2010 issue of Utah Valley Magazine.

"Fabulousness is cropping up all over Utah Valley. We’ve got do-gooders who remain down-to-earth, innovators who thrive by going against the grain, and great minds gaining ground in their fields. And the best part of all? Our 50 most fabulous people are all homegrown — they live and work locally, blooming where they’ve been planted. Read on for a look at 50 of Utah Valley’s most fabulous people."
Caru Das
Whether it’s culture, cuisine, art, architecture, animals, festivals, yoga or philosophy, the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork has something for everyone.
“Between tours, festivals, shoppers, diners, yoga classes and retreats, there are about 50,000 visitors annually,” says Caru Das, the temple’s president.
And that doesn’t count the visitors who use the temple’s offerings virtually.
“Our lives have been enriched by exposure to the Krishna Conscious lifestyle,” Caru says. “We wanted to use the most up-to-date technology to pass it on.”
That technology now includes Facebook (Caru has more than 1,700 friends), daily Tweets, multiple blog posts each week, a YouTube channel with close to 100 videos, and temple webcams for devotees who want to see the altar. In less than three months, the temple’s iTunes channel has seen 1,100 downloads of its Sunday lectures.
“A lot more interested people have been orbiting around the temple, both physically and in cyber space,” Caru says.

Friday, April 9, 2010

True Colors

Artistic video of the Colors Fest. Sound track, "True Colors."

New Holi Video from TK, Kalki Productions

TK (Titiksava Karunika) took this video footage from the stage on March 27th.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Om Shanti Retreat April 16 - 18

The next Om Shanti Retreat is coming up April 16-18, 2010.

====== Register Now ======

Click here for full Picasa slideshow!

Click here to read what others have written about past OM Shanti Retreats

"I loved the yoga outside & time for great discussions. I enjoyed a schedule that was not too structured but was educational & enlightening. I enjoyed the cooking classes & would like more education on the preparation & recipes. I would highly recommend this retreat to others. I loved being a part of the singing, chanting, & music. This group is very talented & inspirational." -- Aubrey, Orem

Two_Yogis_webEnjoy a relaxing retreat at the Krishna Temple. At the foot of the Wasatch Mountains in Utah, the structure itself is a landmark Rajasthani-style temple wherein Krishna resides. For a weekend, all amenities are provided in a devotional atmosphere. Experienced leaders offer an unhurried schedule of events for deep relaxation and inward-turning focus.....

About the Retreat
In a time when demands are increasingly placed on our lives, the Om Shanti Retreats offer a variety of workshops and weekend retreats for people from all backgrounds to explore, reflect, and nurture the self. Our retreat enables people to explore and understand their own spirituality.

New Kusum Sarovar ("Temple on a Lake of Flowers") has been created as a special place for reflection, located alongside of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains of Utah. The calm, natural environment complements the temple's purpose -- to offer the experience of peace and self-realisation.

The atmosphere is warm, simple, and wholesome. We have several guest rooms. Three vegetarian meals are served daily. During your free time, relax at the lake waterfall, or browse through the gift store where a wide range of books and CDs are available to help deepen individual spiritual understanding and meditation.

"I feel this retreat was one of the best of my life. I have been on several with many different kids over the years. Very relaxing, educational, fun on every level. What a great group to enjoy this sacred time with. I loved everything about this weekend and plan to come again soon." -- Alan, Ogden

Discounted prices for couples & students.

Register for the Om Shanti Retreat

Sample Schedule from a recent Retreat
Note : Guests are free to follow as much or as little of the schedule as they like.

3:00 - 5:00 pm Check In, Buffet Meal
5:30 pm Gentle Yoga with Alan Siegel (all yoga classes suitable for beginners)
7:30 pm Mixer & Music in the Ashram
9:15 pm Herbal Tea & Film

7:30 am Gentle Yoga with Alan Siegel
9:15 am Breakfast
10:30 am Llama Hike
12:30 pm Picnic Lunch
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Pranayana & Asanas, w/ Alan Siegel
Cooking Class & Dinner 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm Gwen Nitya, Ayurvedic Practitioner
Gwen will teach the art of making 'Kitchorie,' a favorite North Indian dish,
which is also popular in the South under the moniker 'Pongal.'
7:30 pm Kirtan with Jai Krishna Das and Sri Hanuman
9:00 pm Candlelight Meditation

8 am Yoga and Meditation with Alan Siegel
9:30 am Breakfast
11:00 am Cooking Class with Mina Kumar (Indian Breads - Puri, Parata, Chapatti, Nan
1 pm Lunch


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Holi: Festival of Colors bring Utahns out from hibernation

Newspaper of SLC Community College

N.L. Thi

  • Page 1 of 1
Holi Festival  participants stand at the Krishna Temple is elevated on a 15 acre plot  and stands 50 feet high.
Media Credit: N.L. Thi
Holi Festival participants stand at the Krishna Temple is elevated on a 15 acre plot and stands 50 feet high.

Thousands flocked  to Spanish Fork, Utah for Holi: Festival of Colors on Saturday, March  27.
Media Credit: N.L. Thi
Thousands flocked to Spanish Fork, Utah for Holi: Festival of Colors on Saturday, March 27.

A cloud of color  descends on the participants of Holi: Festival Colors on Saturday, March  27.
Media Credit: N.L. Thi
A cloud of color descends on the participants of Holi: Festival Colors on Saturday, March 27.

Some crowd  surfing took place as a band plays on stage during Holi: Festival of  Colors.
Media Credit: N.L. Thi
Some crowd surfing took place as a band plays on stage during Holi: Festival of Colors.

People from all over Utah, across state lines, even international borders, came to Spanish Fork, Utah on Saturday, Mar. 27. Situated on the edge of Spanish Fork, beside open land spotted with cattle, sitting atop a steep, rolling green hill was the Krishna Temple. Elevated on a 15 acre plot, standing 50 feet high with a 25' diameter main dome, 12 surrounding domes, 108 arches and columns, sculptures and murals, the temple is a sight to see. It's especially impressive when carpeting the surrounding grounds, the upper tier of the temple, every staircase, all around the fountain, flooding the amphitheater, spilling into the parking lot with some still marching there, were thousands of people, pouring in to gather round, toss powdered colors and celebrate Holi.

Holi, The Festival of Colors, is a traditional Indian holiday that marks the burning of an evil Hindu demoness named Holika thousands of years ago.

Spanish Fork houses the biggest Holi celebration in the U.S. where people from California, Nevada, Texas even the U.K. and China came to celebrate. Though it's open to all and requires no admission fee, the chalk, your ammunition, is $5 for three packs. Food and souvenirs are also not free. However, nothing is pricey and the memories are priceless.

People of all nationalities, creeds and religions came to join the festival. There were two celebrations, one at noon and one at 4:00 p.m. with the temple boasting dance, mantra, cuisine, music and a bonfire. With a crowd of over 10,000 last year, the national following, especially among young college students, festival coordinators and church members wanted to kick things up a notch. They decided to upgrade everything, provide more parking and especially more colors. For, Holi, The Festival of Colors is like the name sounds, a festival of lots and lots of colors.

This year, the number of excited, eager Holi goers doubled, with a crowd of 20,000.

Event coordinator and temple priest, Caru Das, said everything went better than planned. Spreading the event into two was very effective as well as providing more parking which cut down on traffic. Though, understandably, there was quite a bit of congestion.

During some points of the festival, there was some very real congestion that had nothing to do with traffic. Even if you try to avoid it, it's almost impossible not to get some chalk in your sinuses. At times, it was impossible to see through the haze of chalk being tossed into the air. Other times, out of nowhere, you'd be pelted by a flash of bright blue or magenta. Sometimes, you'd wade through the crowd and come out painted without ever knowing how or what hit you. No one comes out unscathed. People with the cleanest shirts are attacked with the most ferocity.

"Thank you for forcing me to come; I'm having a blast," Kevin Fivas said to his friend while taking a break from the action.

As Fivas' friend Dustin Ominski of Magna said, it was a beautiful day, no one was at work. He didn't think anyone had room to complain.

On one of the outdoor stages, a band played away, shredding guitars, beat on the drum set and chanted mantras while the crowd of thousands followed. Unlike hymns, mantras are just the names of Gods. However, like saying "Our Father who art in Heaven," repeating a name, like Hare Krishna derives power in just vocalizing it. Saying the name makes for a more intense experience. The crowd called the names in order by heart, jumping up and down to the beat, dancing and even hosting people up to surf along the crowd.

Not one person left without feeling energized, happy and covered head to toe in colors.

Faces were blotted out to become indistinguishable painted masks. Most people wore their splotches of rainbow streaks proudly like battle scars and badges of honor. Most clothes turned the same non-descript russet orange/brown/red mix from the constant assault of powder. Hair was turned tie-dye and people blew out purple into tissues. Getting pegged in the face is almost impossible. Just breathing meant bringing in a rush of dust and powder, sometimes clogging the sinuses and temporarily blinding people.

However, there wasn't a single person who didn't vow they'd recommend this to anyone and everyone. Everyone pledged to come again next year and be ready, armed and waiting.

With the friendly atmosphere, the playful attitude, the delicious smell of samosas and food, the thrumming drums, chanting and bright, vivid colors, Holi is not an event to miss.

"We all arrive different people," Ominski admitted with a smile, "but we leave the same. We're all colored up and ugly."

For more information on Holi as well as other events hosted at the Krishna Temple, visit