In Brief

Holi 2018: how to celebrate the festival of colour

The ancient Hindu holiday ‘is more a time for fun than religious observance’

Millions of people are celebrating the Holi festival today, marking the official arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil.

The Hindu holiday, which began yesterday evening and ends tonight, is traditionally observed in India and Nepal, but in recent years has spread around the world.

What does it celebrate?

Known as the festival of colour, the holiday celebrates the end of winter and the advent of spring.

There are several Hindu legends connected to Holi, including the victory of Lord Vishnu over demon king Hiranyakashipu and his sister Holika. 

Some believe the tradition of staging playful paint fights to mark the festival was inspired by the Hindu god Krishna, who threw coloured water over gopis, or milkmaids, as a mischievous young boy.

How is it celebrated?

Some families hold religious ceremonies during the festival, but for many Holi is “more a time for fun than religious observance”, says the BBC.

During the first part of the festival, known as Holika Dahan, bonfires are lit to commemorate Holika’s death and celebrate good conquering evil. The ash from the fire is believed to bring good luck.

The following day, devotees take to the streets to sing, dance and throw coloured powder and water at each other. In the evening, friends and family gather for food and further celebrations.

Although a Hindu festival, Holi is celebrated by Indians across the country and is a great equaliser, according to CNN.

“Children can douse elders with water, women splash men with colour, and the rules of caste and creed are briefly forgotten, with everyone taking part,” says the news website.

Festivities in the UK are likely to be dampened by the extreme weather conditions this year, however. Neasden Temple, in northwest London, which normally hosts one of the country’s largest Holi celebrations, has already announced that it is cancelling this year’s event owing to heavy snowfall.

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