The world associates India with colours and celebration. When one mixes the two together, it results in Holi. The festival of colours is a much-loved celebration across this vast country and makes for gorgeous photographs that talk of harmony.
The origin of Holi celebrates the triumph of good over evil; the premise of most Indian festivals. It’s the lighting of Holika, the bonfire the night before that starts the celebrations. In the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, Holi is celebrated as the festival of love which ushers in spring. It commemorates the love Krishna had for Radha.
Days before Holi, local shop sellers start stocking up on various varieties of dry colours or gulal, balloons and pitchkaris. Sweet shops go on an overdrive trying to make as much as possible on the bulk orders that come in. As the day approaches, festivities take over the city. The old and young alike, from the morning, start preparations of a colour fight. Different gulals are mixed with water to create colours that would even put Pantone to shame. Pitchkaris are filled with water; full buckets are kept ready; water balloons are prepared and kept in a pile. And then starts the fun!
Families and friends gather as clouds of dry colours fill the air. Shades of red, pink, yellow, green and every colour one can think of, can be seen everywhere. People become unrecognizable as they are drenched in coloured water and smeared with gulal. Music, dance, songs, Holi is a celebration people look forward to every year.
Not just India, Holi is celebrated by Indian communities in all parts of the world. From Los Angeles to various parts of Germany, the celebration of colours is well-loved and documented. Visitors come to India from faraway places just to immerse themselves in colours and experience Holi, a celebration like no other.
Photographer Ashfaq Rah was in Nandgaon, Uttar Pradesh, last year as he captured the celebrations with his lenses. From gleeful young children to elders playing Holi with complete abandon, it was a riot of colours that brought about laughter and enjoyment for all.
As India starts its Holi celebrations, we bring you some gorgeous photos from the past.