Lifestyle & Belief

Holi 2012: A festival of spring's abundant color (PHOTOS)

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A child looks on as Indian villagers smear themselves with colors during the Lathmar Holi festival at the Nandji Temple in Nandgaon, some 120 kms from New Delhi, on Mar. 3, 2012.

Credit:

Manan Vatsyayana

Today marks the second of the traditionally two-day Hindu spring festival of Holi. A holiday celebrating spring's abundant color and the end of winter, Holi closes the wide gaps between social classes and brings Hindus together. It is observed primarily in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.

The main day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, is celebrated by people throwing scented powder and perfume at each other. Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. After doing Holika Dahan, prayers are said and praise is offered.

Here are vivid images of Holi celebrations embracing spring:

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    Indian Sikh devotees mark 'Hola Mohalla' at The Golden Temple in Amritsar on Mar. 9, 2012. Hola Mohalla is a three day Sikh festival, in which Nihang Sikh 'warriors' perform Gatka (mock encounters with real weapons), tent pegging and bareback horse-riding, following the Hindu festival of Holi.

    Credit:

    Narinder Nanu

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    A man sells with colored powder for Holi celebrations on Mar. 21, 2011 in Vrindavan, India.

    Credit:

    Majid Saeedi

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    Indian students dance to celebrate Vasantotsav, 'the Festival of Spring,' in Kolkata on Mar. 6, 2012. Vasantotsav is celebrated in the rest of India as Holi.

    Credit:

    Dibyangshu Sarkar

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    Indian villagers smear themselves with colors at the Nandji Temple in Nandgaon on Mar. 3, 2012.

    Credit:

    Manan Vatsyayana

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    Indian students throw Aabir (colored dust) as they celebrate Vasantotsav, 'the Festival of Spring' in Kolkata on Mar. 6, 2012.

    Credit:

    Dibyangshu Sarkar

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    Indian villagers sit under clouds of Aabir (colored dust) during the Lathmar Holi festival at the Nandji Temple in Nandgaon, some 120 kms from New Delhi, on Mar. 3, 2012.

    Credit:

    Manan Vatsyayana

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    Hindu devotees play with colored powders during Holi celebrations at the Bankey Bihari Temple on Mar. 21, 2011.

    Credit:

    Majid Saeedi

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    Hindu devotees play with colored powder at the Bankey Bihari Temple on Mar. 21, 2011 in Vrindavan, India.

    Credit:

    Majid Saeedi

  • holi-2012-20.jpg

    A child looks on as Indian villagers smear themselves with colors during the Lathmar Holi festival at the Nandji Temple in Nandgaon, some 120 kms from New Delhi, on Mar. 3, 2012.

    Credit:

    Manan Vatsyayana

  • holi-2012-16.jpg

    A women puts her into a plate of Aabir (colored dust) during Vasantotsav, 'the Festival of Spring' in Kolkata on Mar. 7, 2012.

    Credit:

    Dibyangshu Sarkar

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    A young boy gestures as he celebrates Holi by throwing colored powder and water with local people in Kolkata on Mar. 8, 2012.

    Credit:

    Dibyangshu Sarkar

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    Hindu devotees play with colored powder at the Bankey Bihari Temple on Mar. 21, 2011 in Vrindavan, India.

    Credit:

    Majid Saeedi

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    Two friends smear colored powder on each other at the Bankey Bihari Temple on Mar. 21, 2011 in Vrindavan, India.

    Credit:

    Majid Saeedi

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    Indian villagers, smeared in various colors, celebrate the Lathmar Holi festival at the Nandji Temple in Nandgaon, some 120 kms from New Delhi, on Mar. 3, 2012.

    Credit:

    Manan Vatsyayana

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    Pakistani Hindus throw colored water on each other during the Hindu spring festival 'Holi' in Lahore on Mar. 20, 2011. The Hindu festival of Holi heralds the arrival of spring.

    Credit:

    Arif Ali

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    An Indian man throws colored water and powder on a woman during Holi celebrations in New Delhi on Mar. 8, 2012.

    Credit:

    Raveendran

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    Indian villagers take a break during the Lathmar Holi festival at the Nandji Temple in Nandgaon, some 120 kms from New Delhi, on Mar. 3, 2012.

    Credit:

    Manan Vatsyayana

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    Indian traditional dancers perform during Vasantotsav, 'the Festival of Spring' in Kolkata on Mar. 7, 2012.

    Credit:

    Dibyangshu Sarkar

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    Indian traditional dancers perform and throw Aabir during Vasantotsav, 'the Festival of Spring' in Kolkata on Mar. 7, 2012.

    Credit:

    Dibyangshu Sarkar

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    A holy cow in at Holi celebration in Vrindavan, India on Mar. 21, 2011.

    Credit:

    Majid Saeedi