Holi celebrations were in full swing across India this week as people covered themselves in powder, threw flower petals and lit bonfires to celebrate the spring Festival of Colors. The traditionally Hindu holiday is recognized on the day after the last full moon in the month of Phalguna, which typically takes place in early March, according to National Geographic. This year's party has already begun.
Indian social norms are put on hold during Holi. Whether you're rich or poor or male or female, you're invited into the streets to rejoice and fight with dyed powder and water guns. People also use Holi as a chance to fix broken relationships. "It is said the spirit of Holi encourages the feeling of brotherhood in society and even the enemies turn friend on this day," reads the about page on holifestival.org.
Holi centers around the story of Prahlada, a prince who worshipped Hindu god Vishnu. Prahlada's family disapproved of these beliefs and forced him to sit in the middle of a bonfire as punishment. But Vishnu intervened and Prahlada survived, according to National Geographic. The colored powder, called abir, and water, called gulal, used in Holi celebrations are meant to symbolize the flames of the fire and the beauty of spring.
Others honor Holi by feasting. People drink thandai or bhang, a milk drink that includes ground cannabis and eat gujiya, a pastry containing nuts or fruit, according to India Heritage.
The Festival of Colors is also celebrated outside of India. Populations in South Africa, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom and Nepal are among the international groups that host large Holi events. New York City residents come out in force to observe the holiday, throwing parades and concerts that often feature Bollywood actors. "There is so much revelry here that it becomes difficult to imagine that New York is not a part of India," reads holifestival.org. Holi NYC will take place in May.
For now, take a look at some of the celebrations overseas: