India is known for its dynamic, vibrant colors—everything from clothes and jewelry to the painted elephants of Jaipur. However, nothing displays India’s love of color more than the Hindu festival of Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors.
Celebrated in India and throughout the world on the last full moon of the month Falgun in the Hindu lunar calendar, revelers cover each other in colored powder and water to mark the beginning of spring. Many tourists and natives flock to India to take part in the spectacular festivities, some lasting for days and weeks, with rituals differing from region to region. In the city of Mathura, where Lord Krishna was born, celebrations start 40 days before the holiday.
In addition to commemorating fertility and a new harvest season, Holi is associated with several Hindu legends, including the tale of Holika and Prahlad, in which good triumphs evil. To celebrate this story, many people light a bonfire on the eve before Holi and gather around to sing and dance.
Outside of India, Nepal and Bangladesh, Holi has become popular among non-Hindus and spread to cities worldwide, from South Africa to the United States. It is a day when distinctions of age, gender, caste and class are suspended—everyone is encouraged to partake in the merriment.