Holi 2013
A boy smeared with colour poses for a picture during Holi celebrations in the southern Indian city of Chennai

India on Wednesday celebrated Holi, a Hindu festival which marks the beginning of spring, with 'gulal'.

People across the country greeted each other "Holi Mubarak" with sweets, especially the traditional gujiya, in North India. Revellers also consume traditional thandai called bhang. The thandai or bhang is a mild intoxicating drink made from cannabis, a popular recreational drug known for its psychoactive effects.

While kids and youngsters like to play Holi with pichkari and balloons filled with coloured water, the elders prefer to use dry colour.       

President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi wished people on the occasion of Holi.

"On the joyous occasion of Holi, I convey my greetings and good wishes to all my fellow countrymen. This festival which marks the advent of spring, is a harbinger of joy, hope and fulfilment for all," Pranab Mukherjee said on Wednesday.  

"The myriad colours of Holi are a reflection of our diversity and multi-cultural heritage. May this festival of colours strengthen faith in our cherished national values and promote oneness, harmony and the good of all."

The prime minister in his message said that Holi is the celebration of "life and goodness and gives opportunity to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood."

Holi is also a special occasion that marks "victory of good over evil".

There are many legends linked with the celebration of this festival. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna who was jealous of Radha's fair skin smeared her with colours to make her darker. The festival is thus celebrated to commemorate their divine love for each other.

Another popular belief is Holika, sister of great king of demon Hiranyakashipu, was burned to death while trying to kill her nephew Prahlada. Prahlada was the son of Hiranyakashipu and a devotee of Vishnu. Holika had a special power that saved her from being harmed by fire. Hiranyakashipu asked his sister to sit with Prahlad on a bonfire in an attempt to kill him. But Holika was burned to ashes while Prahlad survived. Thus, Holi also marks the death of Holika.

Check out the holi celebration photos here: 

A boy smeared with colour poses for a picture during Holi celebrations in the southern Indian city of Chennai
A boy smeared with colour poses for a picture during Holi celebrations in the southern Indian city of Chennai
Boy sprays coloured foam during Holi celebrations in a lane near the Bankey Bihari temple in Vrindavan
Boy sprays coloured foam during Holi celebrations in a lane near the Bankey Bihari temple in Vrindavan
Two Hindu devotees pose for a picture during Holi celebrations in a lane near the Bankey Bihari temple in Vrindavan
Two Hindu devotees pose for a picture during Holi celebrations in a lane near the Bankey Bihari temple in Vrindavan
A boy sat in a wheelchair rests after playing during the celebrations of Holi, also known as the festival of colours, at the Society for the Education of the Crippled in Mumbai
A boy sat in a wheelchair rests after playing during the celebrations of Holi, also known as the festival of colours, at the Society for the Education of the Crippled in Mumbai
A boy smeared with colours reacts as another boy pours water on him during Holi celebrations in the southern Indian city of Chennai
A boy smeared with colours reacts as another boy pours water on him during Holi celebrations in the southern Indian city of Chennai
People splash coloured water on a woman as she walks in a lane during Holi celebrations in Vrindavan
People splash coloured water on a woman as she walks in a lane during Holi celebrations in Vrindavan

Two girls share a moment as they sit outside the Bankey Bihari temple after celebrating Holi in Vrindavan
Two girls share a moment as they sit outside the Bankey Bihari temple after celebrating Holi in Vrindavan
The feet of a man covered in red coloured powder are pictured during Holi celebrations in a lane near the Bankey Bihari temple in Vrindavan
The feet of a man covered in red coloured powder are pictured during Holi celebrations in a lane near the Bankey Bihari temple in Vrindavan
People daubed in colours dance during Holi celebrations in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad
People daubed in colours dance during Holi celebrations in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad
A boy lies in the ground as other boys pour coloured water on him during Holi celebrations in the southern Indian city of Chennai
A boy lies in the ground as other boys pour coloured water on him during Holi celebrations in the southern Indian city of Chennai