• Holi 2015: "Lathmar Holi" at BarsanaReuters
  • Holi 2015: A man with his face daubed in colours celebrates "Lathmar Holi" at NandgaonReuters
  • Holi 2014Reuters
  • Holi 2013Reuters

Hindu festival Holi will be celebrated on 6 March across India with great fervour and joy. The festival, which comes on the day after the full moon in early March every year, marks the beginning of Spring.

The festival of colours also marks the victory of good over evil.

According to Hindu mythology, the term "Holi" has been derived from "Holika", evil sister of demon king Hiranyakashyap. The king used to consider himself a God and wanted everyone to worship him, but his son Prahlad used to worship Lord Vishnu.

Thus, to get rid of him, the king asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad on her lap. Holika had a cloak that could save her from getting burnt; as a result only Prahlad would get burnt. But the innocent boy's devotion to Lord Vishnu saved him, while Holika paid the price for her evil desire. Since then, the tradition of burning Holika or "Holika Dahan" is prevalent on the eve of the main festival.

Although Holi is observed all over the north, it is the main festival of those residing in Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandgaon, and Barsana. The festival is celebrated for more than two weeks in these places.

It celebrates the immortal love of Krishna and Radha, "Krishna Leela". Hindu mythology says Lord Krishna used to visit Barsana (hometown of Radha) in Mathura with his friends to put coloured water on Radha and other gopis. In retaliation, Radha and the other gopis chased them and beat them up with sticks. This tradition is still followed in Uttar Pradesh, popularly known as "Lathmar Holi".

On the occasion of the festival of colours, people greet each other with sweets, especially the traditional gujiya, in North India.

Also, revellers consume traditional thandai, a special drink made during Holi with buds and leaves of the cannabis plant, popularly known as bhang.

People will be seen throwing colours (gulal) on each other and splashing coloured water with water guns (pichkaaris).

Check out the above slideshow of some random pictures of the festival of colours.

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