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Indians love festivals! Not a month goes by without a celebration. But none are as fun as Holi, the festival of color. Held annually at the beginning of spring on the day after a full moon, this year's festival happens to be today - March 27th, 2013.
As with all Hindu festivals, this one also has a number of different folk tales associated with it - The majority center around the triumph of good over evil. The most popular one is about an arrogant king who resents his son Prahlada for worshipping the protector of humanity - Lord Vishnu. When every attempt to stop him fails, his sister Holika, believed to be immune to heat, joins in the effort by inviting the young boy to accompany her into a large fire. Helped by the powers of Lord Vishnu, Prahlada escapes unscathed, while Holika burns to ashes. To commemorate this event, huge bonfires are lit the night before Holi, to cleanse the air of evil spirits.
In the North Indian State of Uttar Pradesh, the fun festival is attributed to the immortal love between the mischievous fun-loving god Krishna and his wife Radha. They are still so revered that the residents of Mathura, (where he was born) and Vrindavan, (where he spent most of his life), celebrate it with great abandon, for almost two weeks!
What's so great about this day? While there are some fun processions, folk song and dance performances, the best part about the festival is the ritual of taking to the streets early in the morning and splashing friends and even total strangers with dry colors, water balloons, water guns and even, dousing them with entire buckets of colored water - On this day everyone, young and old, is fair game.
At about midday, the friendly mayhem comes to an end and people living close to oceans or rivers, usually take a dip in the water to cleanse off, before trudging home to a delectable homemade feast and a well-deserved siesta.
Resources: wikipedia.org, goindia.about.com