PHOTOS: Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colors

The Hindu festival of Holi, also referred to as the festival of colors, celebrates the arrival of spring and is associated with the legend of Holika.

In India, Holi is marked by a national holiday, and rightly so. Anyone who ventures out of their home can expect to be smeared in colored powder, sprayed with colored water from pichkaris (water guns), and pelted with water balloons and even eggs.

Holi has over time arguably become one of the most permissive Hindu festivals, with revelers openly consuming bhang (a beverage concocted from milk and cannabis leaves).

Holi is associated with a few legends, but the most popular one has to do with Hiranyakashipu — king of demons — his sister Holika, and his son Prahlad.

As the legend goes, Hiranyakashpu was blessed by the Gods and became nearly immortal. But he soon grew arrogant and commanded that everyone worship him instead of the gods. When his own son Prahlad refused, he tried to have him killed. The king's sister Holika had also been blessed and could not be harmed by fire. So Hiranyakashipu ordered his son to sit in Holika's lap on a pyre. But Prahlad continued to pray to the Hindu god Visnhu and survived, while Holika perished in the flames. Holi also celebrates the burning of Holika.

We put together some images of the colorful festival being celebrated in India and around the world.

Click here to see the photos >

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