Holi, also known as the “Festival of Colors,” takes place every spring during the Hindu month of Phalguna. This corresponds with a date between the end of February and the middle of March on the Gregorian calendar. The festival officially runs from evening to evening.
Celebrations begin the first evening with religious rituals, but Holi is best known for the events of the following morning, Rangwali Holi. During this festive free-for-all, people throw colored powder and waters on each other. In public festivals, anyone and everyone is fair game, and people are covered head to foot in various colors. Those celebrating also carry drums and musical instruments and go from place to place singing and dancing.
The festival is rooted in multiple myths. One legend says that Prahlada, the son of an arrogant demon, remained devoted to the god Vishnu even when Prahlada’s father demanded that Prahlada worship him instead of Vishnu. Prahlada’s father was furious, and Prahlada was tricked into sitting on a pyre but was not burned. At dusk, Vishnu appeared and vindicated Prahlada by slaying Prahlada’s evil father.
Another popular myth says that the god Krishna was concerned that his love Radha would not love him in return due to his blue skin. Krishna’s mother advises Krishna to smear Radha’s face with color. It is after this playful coloring that Radha and Krishna became a divine couple.