To prepare for Holi, people must first gather wood for the pre-festival ritual of Holika Dahan. The ritual takes place on the night before the Holi festival, where crowds burn an effigy of Holika (a demoness in Hindu Vedic scriptures) to symbolize the victory of good over evil. The following day, called Dhuleti, is when everyone (and everything) gets colorful.
During the Holi festival, colored water paints the city and its inhabitants as it pours from large buckets and bursts from haphazardly tossed water balloons. The Holi festival is meant for everyone to enjoy, regardless of their age or gender. Rich musical numbers and special bhang-laced drinks are served in abundance (bhang refers to the leaves and flowers of the female cannabis plant).
While each city celebrates differently, Mathura and Vrindavan are usually considered the most vibrant of the celebrations, and therefore draw large crowds full of locals and tourists. All in all, Holi marks a unique, happy holiday that brings people and families together. There’s no better way to ring in the new season.