The festival of colours, Holi is observed with much pomp and joy all in every part of India. It marks the onset of spring and celebrates the victory of good over evil. Holi is one of the most vibrant festivals in the country’s cultural calendar and sees participation of people from all walks of life. It is celebrated mostly in the month of March and is known by different names in various parts of the country. Some of the most popular ones include dol jatra or dol purnima in West Bengal where women adorn themselves with garlands and sing and dance to the music of traditional instruments; Hola Mohalla, which is celebrated a day after Holi in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab; Yaosang in Manipur that lasts for five days starting from full moon day of the Hindu month of phalguna; Lattmaar Holi, which is celebrated in Barsana in Uttar Pradesh, involves women mock hitting men with sticks and Manjal Kuli in Kerala where a straw effigy representing the Hindu deity Kamadeva is burnt.

Rituals and celebrations
The rituals begin the night before Holi with a bonfire. On the day, people smear each other with gulaal or abir (dry colours) that are made from such organic ingredients as flowers like marigold, rose, blue and red hibiscus  and powders of arrowroot, cornstarch, roses, turmeric and even spinach leaves. Along with dried colours people also play with coloured water and use water guns and balloons to do so. Every member of the family and community come together to revel in the festivities.

Significance of the colours
The colours that are used to celebrate - namely blue, red, yellow, green - are symbolic. Blue, for example, is symbolic of the Hindu deity Lord Krishna who is depicted with blue skin. In India, red is associated with marriage and can, therefore, stand for matrimony or fertility. Green stands for new beginnings and also represents rebirth. Yellow, which is the hue of turmeric, signifies auspiciousness.

Holi food
A plethora of such savouries as mathri, gujiya, papad, malpua and thandai are prepared and savoured by the entire family. These treats are also exchanged along with warm greetings.