A student of Rabindra Bharati University smiles as a fellow student applies colored powder on her face during celebrations for Holi in Kolkata, March 2, 2015. (© RUPAK DE CHOWDHURI/Reuters/Corbis)
Colored powder is thrown on a university student celebrating Holi. Originally, colors were made naturally through extracts of plants and flowers, but synthetic colors are now used. (© RUPAK DE CHOWDHURI/Reuters/Corbis)
People throw colored powder as they celebrate Holi in Nandgaon, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, February 28, 2015. (© AHMAD MASOOD/Reuters/Corbis)
A boy with his turban daubed in colors celebrates Holi in Nandgaon, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, February 28, 2015. (© AHMAD MASOOD/Reuters/Corbis)
A man throws colored water as he celebrates Holi in Nandgaon, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, February 28, 2015. (© AHMAD MASOOD/Reuters/Corbis)
Veiled women wait to beat men with sticks during Holi in Barsana in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, February 27, 2015. In a Holi tradition unique to Barsana, men sing provocative songs to gain the attention of women, who then "beat" them with bamboo sticks called lathis. (© AHMAD MASOOD/Reuters/Corbis)
A man with his face daubed in colors celebrates Holi in Nandgaon, February 28, 2015. The festival makes no distinction between the ages, so on this day, young and old are all out on the streets throwing colors and water. (© AHMAD MASOOD/Reuters/Corbis)
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India, February 27, 2015. (© SANJEEV GUPTA/epa/Corbis)
Indian kids with colored powder on their face join celebrations of the Holi festival at the Pagal Baba Ashram in Vrindavan on March 3 , 2015. (© Deepak Malik/NurPhoto/Corbis)
A Hindu widow lies on the ground filled with a mixture of colored powder, water and flower petals at the Meera Sahabhagini Widow Ashram in Vrindavan, India, March 3, 2015. Defying tradition, many widows celebrated for the first time in decades. (© Deepak Malik/NurPhoto/Corbis)
An Indian woman is doused in vibrant colors at the Holi celebration in the northeastern state of Assam in India, March 6, 2015. (© Luit Chaliha/ZUMA Press/Corbis)
Colored water is dumped on a young boy as he celebrates Holi in Calcutta, India on March 6, 2015. Hindus across India and throughout the world share prayer, food, friendship and laughter to commemorate the coming of spring. (© KM Asad/ZUMA Press/Corbis)
Hindu devotees walk around a bonfire during a ritual known as "Holika Dahan," part of Holi celebrations in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, March 16, 2014. Holika Dahan signifies the burning of the demoness Holika and symbolizes the victory of good over evil. (© AMIT DAVE/Reuters/Corbis)
Children of all ages and class partake in the festivities of Holi in Calcutta, India on March 6, 2015. (© KM Asad/ZUMA Press/Corbis)
Breaking tradition, Hindu widows dance and celebrate Holi at the Meera Sahabhagini Widow Ashram in Vrindavan, India, March 3, 2015. (© KM Asad/ZUMA Press/Corbis)

Holi 2015: Stunning Photos of Holi, the Festival of Colors

Celebrated all over India and around the world, the Hindu festival heralds the beginning of spring

smithsonian.com

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. 

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