NEW DELHI, March 13 (Xinhua) -- India Monday celebrated Holi, the Hindu festival of colors which comes at the end of the winter season and marks the beginning of spring.
In the Indian capital, people cutting across ages threw colored powder and liquids at each other to mark the festival which also signifies the victory of good over evil, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships.
"This is the time to smear each other with colors. It's the festival of love and togetherness when you forget the past," said Navin Chowdhury, a local resident, sipping a glass of thandai (a special drink laced with bhangs (addictive substance) prepared only for the festive day.
"It's the most energetic festival," he added.
Some of the biggest celebrations took place in Mathura and Vrindavan, two adjacent towns in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, barely 150 km from the national capital. Mathura is the birthplace of Hindu god Krishna and Vrindavan is where he played Holi with his consort Radha.
"I held a pichkaari (water gun) and I just didn't want to stop. It's time to immerse in colors. It's like an explosion in a paint factory here," said Dhiraj Singh, a Delhi resident who went to Mathura like every year just to play Holi for half a day.
So, what's the history of Holi in India?
Once upon a time, there was a demon king called Hiranyakashyap who asked everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But his own son, Prahlad, disobeyed him and became a devotee of Hindu god Lord Naarayana instead.
Holi is celebrated to commemorate the miraculous escape of young Prahlad, despite being carried into the fire by the demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashyap. In India, on the day before Holi, people light bonfires to recall Prahlad's escape.
Holi derives its name from Holika and is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil.