This holiday is Holi, the Hindu festival of love, colors and spring. This is the time when Indians put on simple and inexpensive clothes and take to the streets to shower each other with clouds of colored powder and buckets of water. There are songs, dances and, of course, food.
Holi falls on a Friday this year.
But in parts of India, communities kick off the festivities by lighting bonfires the night before in a celebration known as Holika Dahan or Choti Holi.
The story goes something like this: the demon king Hiranyakashayap, who wanted to be worshiped as a god, became angry that his son Prahlad was instead a devotee of the deity Vishnu, the preserver and protector of the universe. In turn, Hiranyakashayap conspired with his sister Holika to kill his son.
As part of the plan, Holika was to lure Prahlad into her lap and into the fire, with her enchanted shawl protecting her from the wrath of the flames. But Vishnu thwarted the duo’s plan and saved Prahlad. In the end, Holika died in the fire and Hiranyakashayap died at the hands of Vishnu. Eventually Prahlad succeeded his father as king.
Today street market vendors sell a bunch of colorful powder so that people can follow in the footsteps of Radha and Krishna.
Even though Holi is a Hindu holiday, it now transcends religion and is celebrated by people all over the Indian subcontinent. People young and old come together to wrap loved ones and strangers in shades of red, yellow, pink, purple and more for a day of laughter and fun.