While rainbows waved in Washington DC at the start of the gay marriage Supreme Court hearings this week, rainbows of a different sort have been streaking across India, Pakistan, Singapore, and other countries to mark the Holi, the festival of colors. The Hindu tradition celebrates the end of Winter and start of Spring with devotees throwing bright multicolored powder, known as gulal, at each other. Similar to Mardi Gras, social restrictions are loosened during the holiday, meaning Hindus from all classes and both sexes join in the events together. Holi day takes place on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna, which this year was March 27. Click through to find out more about the tradition and see pictures of this year's vibrant Holi celebrations!
Today people in India mark Holi, also known as the Festival of Spring or the Festival of Colors. The vibrant Hindu tradition is celebrated at the end of Winter, on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna — which is today! Similar to Mardi Gras, during Holi social restrictions are loosened. In India, Hindus from all classes and both sexes celebrate together, and people are expected to act a little wild, throwing colorful dust on each other to mark the end of a cold and dark Winter. See pictures from this year's celebration now.
Nobody welcomes Spring like Hindus. Much like Mardi Gras, Holi, the Spring festival of colors, celebrates mischief and merrymaking. But I'm going to wager it's the only religious festival that involves paintball-like rituals. Of course, it's not paint, but colored powdered and water. The tradition of throwing and smearing it on others dates back to the seventh century, and it's celebrated most jovially in India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.
Holi is one of the world's most celebrated holidays and undoubtedly also one of the most fun. Spring begins with Holi in the Hindu religious calender (for more on the significance of Holi and the role of Lord Vishnu, read up here), and it happens to fall on March 20 this year. Celebrants worldwide will honor the day by having color parties, where people have a raucous good time throwing brightly pigmented powder and water at one another. By the end of the day, everyone is soaked, dyed in an array of colors, and usually pretty blissed out.
Even if you don't have a Holi party invitation this year, you can still honor the day with a little color of your own. Whether you decide to wear bright red lipstick, turquoise eye shadow, or something else entirely, let Holi's hues guide your look this weekend.
Hindu devotees played with color during Holi celebrations in Vrindavan, India this weekend. The colorful tradition comes from a legend involving Radha and the Hindu God Krishna. The legend states that young Krishna was jealous of Radha's fair complexion, so his mother teasingly asked him to color Radha's face in whichever color he wanted.