Come for the colors. Stay for the positive vibes.

The annual Holi Festival of Colors returns to Ogden again this year, bringing its signature “color throws” featuring corn-starch powders in vibrant hues that are thrown into the air or lovingly smeared on fellow participants.

Such color throws may draw people in to the festival, but it’s all the other stuff that keeps them there, according to festival organizer Charu Das.

“The colors are a novelty,” Das admits. “People come originally for the colors — they see the pictures and want to experience it for themselves.”

However, Das says the Holi Festival of Colors is so much more.

“It’s really as much a music and yoga festival as it is the colors,” he said. “The reason people come back year after year after year is: one, the music, and two, the positive environment.”

The event kicks off at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 25, and continues through 4 p.m. at West Stadium Park, 1650 Jefferson Ave., in Ogden. In addition to the hourly color throws, the festival will feature live music, yoga, dancing and food.

And hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.

“We encourage lots of free hugs throughout the day,” Das said, touting the love and positive vibe surrounding the festival. “It’s very refreshing when you consider all the backbiting and negative comments and fear-mongering these days. Almost everything we’re exposed to in the media tends to distance us from one another, increase the mistrust and divisiveness. But here, we just tear that apart — rip it down for the day.”

According to www.festivalofcolorsusa.com, the festival is a modern adaptation of the traditional Indian celebration Holi, which announces the passing of winter and the arrival of spring. In India, where it is warmer, they use liquid colors. Here, powdered colors are used.

The festival is associated with the Salt Lake City and Spanish Fork Krishna Temples, and Das says organizers “follow the Hindu way.” However, he insists the festival isn’t about a particular religion.

“It’s about celebrating the common spirituality,” Das said. “We’ve been doing this for 25 years in Spanish Fork, and we’ve never once heard a whisper from someone saying they felt pushed toward one particular path or another.”

Entertainment will include Kirtan bands and vocalists like Katie Wise, Bhakti Explosion, and Anada Groove. A number of yoga instructors will also be featured at the event.

Artists Malini and Aakansha Maheswari will lead participants in a Bollywood dance.

“We make it very hard for people to sit and passively watch,” Das said. “We call our people on stage — we don’t call them entertainers, we call them ‘engagers.’ It’s a big difference.”

Food will also be available at the event — but no meat, according to Das.

“I tell people because we are celebrating consciousness, we’re not selling any meat here today,” he explains.

And then, of course, there are the color throws. At the top of every hour, participants do a countdown and throw colors into the air.

“But we never count down to zero, because what is zero?” Das asks. “Instead, we say ‘Love!’ or ‘Unity!’ or ‘Krishna!’”

Admission to the festival is $6.50 if completed online; at the gate, it’s $8. Children age 12 and younger are admitted free. The festival will be held rain or shine.

No outside food or colors are allowed. The 100-gram bags of powdered colors at the event come in violet, green, yellow, pink and orange, and are $3 each. Ingredients are listed as “corn starch, permissible food-grade dyes, and fragrance.”

Organizers recommend bandanas, sunglasses and dust masks to cover the eyes and mouth. These items will be available for purchase at the event.

Das said the festival involves a lot of higher concepts about the nature of the self as being apart from this body — transcending differences of age and gender and race. He said it gives rise to a real sense of fraternity at the Holi Festival of Colors.

“We give uplifting messages from the stage,” Das said. “These musicians are not only talented, but also practicing vegans, or vegetarians, or yogis — they’re tapped into a higher consciousness. This festival offers more than just entertainment. The entertainment is solid, but there’s also a spirit to it that’s very rare these days.”

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!