VRINDAVAN, India – Men, women and children battled it out on the streets of India on Thursday to mark Holi, the annual festival of color.
Millions of Indians across the country celebrated the day in community centers and public places, smearing each other with dry color, colored water, hitting each other playfully with color-filled water balloons and squirting each other with water guns.
The day is also marked by the worship of lord Krishna, the god of love, especially in the temple town of Vrindaban where the day is celebrated with great fervor.
“Please! a little more!” an old man, carrying a bag full of colors, requested a fellow devotee at the entrance of the Krishna Temple in Vrindavan.
According to popular tales, the festival originated with the dark-skinned Lord Krishna smearing color on his lady love Radha, so the hue of their skin would be similar.
On Thursday, the pavements of Vrindaban wore a battle-weary look, with colors filling its every cracks and crevices, especially near the Bankey Bihari temple, where thousands of people had gathered to play with colors to mark the day.
The day had started with processions of devotees, making a beeline to the various temples in the town with colors and other offerings to loud beats of drums.
The sounds of laughter and mock-protests had rang out loud as people smeared each other with colors.
The festival is celebrated with as much joy and fervor in other parts of India too.
Apart from playing with friends and relatives, often revelers stand in street corners, ready to drench unsuspecting passersby with color.
Rahul, a gulal vendor in Vrindavan said that the amount of colors sold and distributed during the festival should be enough to color one small country from top to bottom.
“On the eve of the celebrations, I sell 100 kilos of different colors of gulal (dry colors), but on Holi I can sell double of that,” he told EFE.
Lodges and inns are also not hesitant to welcome guests covered in color.
“There is no problem, you are not in Europe, this is India,” says the host of a lodge, as he invited a tourist, covered in color, to sit on a sofa.