The Hindu Festival of Colors, Holi, is celebrated by throwing colored powder (gulal) and scented water on participants in a raucous celebration of joy and spring. The festival is not limited to the ecstatic street-swarming of color – among the many sweets and delicacies made specifically for the festival, the traditional cannabis drink called bhang lassi is served to encourage the inherent excitement of the festival. Many practices which may be found offensive outside of Holi, such as intoxication and horseplay in public, are allowed during the celebration.
There are varying stories that explain the background for Holi. One story is that Krishna’s mother applied color to Radha’s face, Krishna’s love, when Krishna complained about the difference in their complexions (he dark and she fair). In this story, the celebration is said to commemorate their great love.
In another story, the enormous bonfire that accompanies the Holi festivities is meant to honor a great love Shiva observed between Kamadeva (the god of love) and his wife Rati after Shiva had accidentally reduced Kamadeva to ashes with his third eye when accidentally awoken.
Holi takes place on the last full moon of the Hindu lunar month Phalguna, which is typically around February or March. The celebration is largest in India, Nepal and Pakistan, but has sprung up in places as distant and different as Fiji and Utah.