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Get ready to throw colourful powder for Holi

 

Indian Hindus celebrate the festival of colors or Holi in Kolkata, India. (AP Photo/Bikas Das)

It's spring and time to celebrate the Hindu festival called Holi. It's also known as the "festival of colours."

This year because of Covid, many people will be taking care to stay safe. They may celebrate with their families indoors or even virtually.

Let's take a look at how Holi has been celebrated in the past.


What is Holi?

Hindu priest applies colours to devotees outside of temple for Holi festival.

A Hindu priest applies colours to a devotee as others wait inside Banke Bihari temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna, during Holi festival celebrations in Vrindavan, India, (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Holi is an ancient colourful two-day festival held all over the world. It is celebrated as a national holiday in India.

The holiday is an ancient one that dates back thousands of years. It marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

Each year, Holi falls on a different date in February or March. In 2021, the festival is on March 29.


First day of Holi — the bonfire

people around a large bonfire

(Sam Panthaky/Getty Images)

This festival begins with a huge bonfire. People gather wood and build the fire in a public place. They chant and dance as it burns.


Second day of Holi — the colours

An Indian girl reacts as colored powder is smeared on her during celebrations marking Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, in Mumbai India.

An Indian girl reacts as coloured powder is smeared on her during celebrations marking Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, in Mumbai India. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

On the second day, people of all ages gather in the streets. They chase each other and throw handfuls of coloured powders, known as gulal (say "goo-LAHL").

Some also carry water pistols called pichkaris (say "pitch-kah-rees"). They use them to soak everyone in sight with coloured water. Others use buckets of water to drench those who are celebrating.

 

a child with a face covered in colourful power

(Sajjad Hussain/Getty Images)

Before long, everyone is covered from head to toe in brightly-coloured powder. No wonder Holi is also called the festival of colours!

After a day of colourful play, people clean up and prepare for the evening. That’s when everyone visits their friends and relatives. They share special sweets and foods with each other.


Why so many colours?

Multi-coloured powders sold at a market.

Multi-coloured powders sold at a market in Kolkata, India. (Dibyangshu Sarkar/Getty Images)

The many colourful powders represent Hindu gods. They also represent the colours of nature.

When Holi was first celebrated, people made the coloured powders at home. Local flowers, leaves and herbs were dried in the sun and ground into powder.

Today they are made in factories and can be bought around the world.