Each year, the Holi Festival celebrates the beginning of spring with an explosion of color. Participants, mostly in India and Nepal, sing and dance near temples while being blasted with water and brightly colored powder that sticks to their clothes, their skin, and everything around them.
This colorful Hindu ritual, known as Rangwali Holi, is actually the second part of Holi. The first part, Holika Dahan, takes place the night before. During Holika Dahan, people burn pyres to symbolize the triumph of good over evil.
Because Indian widows are often culturally expected to forsake earthly pleasures, they have historically been banned from Rangwali Holi. In recent years, widows have broken these rules. This year, the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation helped organize widows to celebrate the festival in the towns of Vrindavan and Varanasi in an effort to fight stigmas about unmarried older women’s place in society. But for many widows, letting loose during Holi is still considered taboo.
Though festivals take place at different times, this year’s main date for Rangwali Holi is Thursday. Here are pictures of this year’s celebrations in India.
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