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March 23, 2011

Holi: Festival of Colors

Every year, Hindus greet the turn of winter into spring with a splash of color -- in some areas, a geyser of color. They call their celebration the festival of Holi, and Hindus across India and throughout the world share prayer, camaraderie, special food, and a general sense of mischief as they douse each other in dyes and colored water. The large festival has roots to many Hindu legends associated with the triumph of good over evil. One of the best-known stories tells the tale of the demoness Holika, who tried to kill Prahlad, the son of the demon king Hiranyakashyap, for refusing to worship his father. Instead, Holika is consumed in flames, which is replayed each year with bonfires and effigies, before the celebrants break out the hues and cries of the festival. - Lloyd Young (43 photos total)

Indians call it "playing colors" a jubilant scrum of horseplay and body painting. In Mumbai, colored powder is the weapon of choice for a pair of girls March 20. (Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press)

Coming through in flying colors, Hindu devotees celebrate Holi, the festival of color, dance, and crowds, at the Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan, about 87 miles from New Delhi, on March 18. Vrindavan is a famous place for Holi celebrations. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

A dousing of various colors has turned a Holi celebrant brown at the Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan on March 21. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

Hindu devotees have painted much of the town of Vrindavan -- and themselves -- red on March 21. The town, in Uttar Pradesh, India, is one of the cultural and religious centers of Hinduism and the site where one of the central figures of the religion, Krishna, grew up, according to tradition. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

An Indian vendor arranges the arsenal for celebrants of Holi -- colored powder -- at his shop in Hyderabad, India, on March 18. (Mahesh Kumar A/Associated Press) #

Colored powder covers the face of a boy in Mumbai on March 18. The main day of the holiday of Holi was Sunday, March 20, but participants flung colors at one another throughout the weekend and on Monday. (Rafiq Maqbool/Associated Press) #

Indian villagers chat in the village of Jaav, 113 miles south of New Delhi, March 21. (KevinFrayer/Associated Press) #

Hindu worshippers, splattered with colors, pray at the Dauji Temple in Dauji, 113 miles south of New Delhi on March 21. (KevinFrayer/Associated Press) #

When they are not sloshing one another with colors, celebrants in Vrindavan spend much of their time in Banke Bihari, which is considered the favorite temple of the Hindu figure, Lord Krishna.(Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

A blast of red hovers over a crowd of Holi celebrants near the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan on March 21. Such explosions of color could be found around the world, but Vrindavan is known as one of the centers of the celebration. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

Hindu devotees gather under a powdery cloud near the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan on March 21. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

A Hindu devotee prays at the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan on March 19. (Manish Swarup/Associated Press) #

The colors of India are captured both in traditional dress and in Holi-enfused dress near the the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan on March 21. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

Red dye saturates Indian women at the Dauji Temple in Dauji, 113 miles south of New Delhi, on March 21. The Dauji Temple festivities are known for a ritual in which the women playfully hit men with whips made of cloth as men throw buckets of water with dye. (KevinFrayer/Associated Press) #

Hindu devotees play with colored powders during Holi celebrations at the Banke Bihari Temple on March 21 in Vrindavan. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

Hindu devotees pray at Banke Bihari Temple on March 21 in Vrindavan, India. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

Hindu devotees toss colors as they pray during Holi celebrations at Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan on March 19. Holi, also called the Festival of Colors, is observed in India at the end of winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month, which usually falls in the latter part of February or in March. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images) #

Indians dance in the streets amid blasts of color in Gauhati on March 20. (Anupam Nath/Associated Press) #

At the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan, powder turns celebrants into specters of color on March 21. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images) #

Indian villagers light up in Jaav, 113 miles south of New Delhi, on March 21. (KevinFrayer/Associated Press) #

Colored clouds envelop a crowd of Hindu worshippers at the Dauji Temple in Dauji, 113 miles south of New Delhi, on March 21. (KevinFrayer/Associated Press) #

A man dances in the mud in the Savannah in Arranguez in Trinidad and Tobago on March 20. Celebrants in this Caribbean nation also call the holiday, known as Holi across the Hindi world, Phagwa. (Andrea De Silva/Reuters) #

Pakistani Hindus throw buckets of reds and yellows over each other during their celebration of Holi in Lahore on March 20. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images) #

An Indian woman gets both a faceful of powder and a handful of green paint during celebrations in Allahabad on March 20. (Rajesh Kumar Singh/Associated Press) #

A Malaysian girl gets her face painted during the Holi festival in Kuala Lumpur on March 20. About 6 percent of the predominantly Muslim nation is Hindu. (Lai Seng Sin/Associated Press) #

An Indian showers in colored water during celebrations in Hyderabad on March 20. (Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images) #

A man poses for a photograph while his friend wipes his cheek in colored powder before a Cricket World Cup match between India and the West Indies in Chennai, India, March 20. (Philip Brown/Reuters) #

A student from University of British Columbia is smeared with color during the Holi festivities celebrated in Vancouver, Canada, on March 19. (Komail Naqvi) #

Revelers celebrate the festival of Holi on the deck of the ship Peking at South Street Seaport in Manhattan on March 19. Many of the New York participants are Indian-American but others also participate. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) #

Revelers celebrate Holi on the deck of the ship Peking at South Street Seaport in Manhattan March 19. The 377-foot ship, docked near the Brooklyn Bridge, has been the site of Holi celebrations for several years. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) #

Hugs and smiles are also part of the celebration at Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan. The Holi festival of colors draws its roots from a Hindu legend involving the courtship of Radha and the religious figure Krishna. It is believed that young Lord Krishna was jealous of Radha's fair complexion since he himself was very dark. After questioning his mother Yashoda, on the darkness of his complexion, Yashoda, teasingly asked him to color Radha's face in which ever color he wanted. In a mischievous mood, Lord Krishna applied color on Radha's face, hence the tradition of applying color on loved ones. (Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images) #

Indian revellers daub powder on each others' faces as they celebrate in the west Bengal city of Siliguri on March 19. In this part of India, celebrants call the festival Vasantotsav. (Diptendu Dutta/AFP/Getty Images) #

Faces of the rainbow catch a bucket of water of water while celebrating in Kathmandu on March 19. The tradition of Holi is followed with great enthusiasm all over Nepal. (Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters) #

A Nepalese reveller is tossed into the air during celebrations in Kathmandu on March 19. (Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images) #

Children, their faces smeared with colored powder, are driven through Jammu, India, on March 19. (Channi Anand/Associated Press) #

Raja Ali, 12, sprays colored water at vehicles as he celebrates Holi in Gauhati, India, on March 19. (Anupam Nath/Associated Press) #

Children covered in powder are sprayed with water as they celebrate Holi at a school in Ahmedabad, India, on March 19. (Amit Dave/Reuters) #

Children gather around a teacher to receive more colored power at their school in Ahmedabad, India, on March 19. (Amit Dave/Reuters) #

Hindu devotees join a crowd at the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan on March 18. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

A Hindu devotee, at the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan on March 18. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

In a sea of red, a kerchief of blue stands out in an early celebration of Holi, on March 14, in Barsana in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. (K.K. Arora/Reuters) #

An Indian prays during celebrations at Nandgaon village near the northern Indian city of Mathura on March 15. (K.K. Arora/Reuters) #

Revelers celebrate on the deck of the ship Peking at South Street Seaport in Manhattan on March 19. The celebration also included Indian food and music. (Mario Tama/Getty Images) #



 
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