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Travel

India's Spring Festival Bursts into Color

To say Holi in India is an eye-catching festival marking the arrival of spring is an understatement. It's something close to a riot of colors.

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    This year it is officially observed as a holiday in Delhi on March 24, but celebrations vary throughout the country.

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    Like many things in India, traditions vary about the origin of the festival — a mélange of deities, fire and love.

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    Millions of handfuls of brightly colored powder hurled into the air — bursts of green, yellow, pink, blue, red. Color, color, everywhere.

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    The holiday kicks off sales and advertising for everything from an airline staging a Bollywood-inspired dance show to online deals on "Organic Holi Colors" and cell phone cases.

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    The festival has a long tradition of appearances in Bollywood films. The Indian Express put together a collection of clips featuring superstars like Deepika Padukone, Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bachchan, soaked and splattered with colors as they dance and sing.

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    It is, as a government website notes, "the most lively of all Hindu festivals."

     

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    The Delhi police this week issued a notice asking that city residents not participate in behavior that included "throwing dirt, chemicals and balloons at passers-by"; "playing Holi with unwilling persons"; and "harassment of women."

     

     

    Photographers: Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency and Chandan Khanna/AFP all via Getty Images

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    There are quiet moments, too, cocooned by family and faith.

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    It's not uncommon for buckets or balloons fat with colored water to crash down from above.

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    The Indian media has chronicled a wide variety of local Holi celebrations, including one in which men try to woo women, who in turn whack them with long sticks.

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    Even for a nation as visually arresting as India, it's an intense scene, with people from all walks of life streaked from head to toe with color.

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    In some neighborhoods, the holiday means small armies of children pumping water guns and shrieking with laughter.

    Photographer: Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images