Festival of Color to splash into town next week

With Derby Days in mid-July, Anandamela a couple weeks after that and Redmond Lights in the first weekend of December, the City of Redmond has festivals covered in summer and winter.

Latha Sambamurti applies colored powder on her face to show what will be used during the Festival of Color. The festival is similar to India’s Holi festival

With Derby Days in mid-July, Anandamela a couple weeks after that and Redmond Lights in the first weekend of December, the City of Redmond has festivals covered in summer and winter.

But come spring, there’s not much happening.

Until now.

The city is partnering with the Vedic Cultural Center (VCC) in Sammamish to hold the first-ever Festival of Color to celebrate the coming of spring.

The festival will be from noon to 3 p.m. on March 23 in Downtown Park at 16101 Redmond Way and will be similar to Holi, a spring color festival held around the same time of year in India.

“It’s pure enjoyment,” said artistic director Latha Sambamurti.

Sambamurti, a former Redmond arts commissioner who currently sits on the state Board of the Arts Commission, said in India, they welcome spring with color: People spend the day throwing colored powder at each other and splashing each other with colored water.

“We just take the colors, we go to the streets and we just throw colors at other people,” Sambamurti said.

While it is not uncommon for people to “color” complete strangers on the street in India, Sambamurti acknowledges that the same can’t be said about Redmond as some people may not be too thrilled to be walking down Cleveland Street and suddenly find their faces streaked with red or their clothes blotted with blue and green.

Next week’s festival will be contained to Downtown Park with a designated area for the “coloring,” which is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m.

Sambamurti said people who would like to participate will be able to register onsite for $10, which will buy them five packets of colored powder for the event, as well as a mask and shower cap. She recommends participants wear old clothes they wouldn’t mind getting dirty, but added they will also be selling long white T-shirts for $10 for people to wear over their clothes.

There will be dressing booths and washing stations onsite for people who would like to clean up before they leave the festival.

Sambamurti said the vegetable-based colored powders they will be using are nontoxic and FDA and City of Redmond approved.

In addition to the “coloring,” the Festival of Color will have vegetarian Indian food available for purchase and live music and dancing. Sambamurti said there will also be a dance contest and a contest for the “most attractively colored festival attendee.”

“This festival is a wonderful way to welcome spring in Redmond,” said VCC President Harry Terhanian, “by having fun with your families and friends in a colorful way.”

The Festival of Color is part of the Redmond Arts Commission’s 2013 season, Centering Redmond. The event is supported by a grant from the commission and will be run by VCC volunteers.

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