Indians celebrate Holi, Hindu festival of color
Millions of Indians on Wednesday celebrated the Holi festival, dancing to the beat of drums, smearing each other with green, yellow and red colors and exchanging sweets in homes, parks and streets.
Free from wearing masks and other COVID-19 restrictions after two years, they drenched each other with colored water.
One of the most popular Hindu festivals, Holi provides an opportunity for people to come together, forget resentment and ill feelings toward each other.
"Wishing you all a happy and colorful Holi!" tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Bollywood and other celebrities organized bashes for friends and posted photos on social media.
"People who work hard, play hard," said Ravi Sharma, a pharmacy owner.
The festival, which also marks the beginning of the spring season, celebrates the divine love of Hindu god Krishna with his consort Radha.
On Tuesday night, people got into the mood by making bonfires with logs of wood in open spaces to commemorate the triumph of good over evil – Hindu god Vishnu killing a demon, Hiranyakashipu.
Holi traditions vary across India. In two northern towns, hundreds of women celebrated last week by playfully hitting men with wooden sticks in response to their teasing as part of a ritual.
Drinking is part of the celebrations. New Delhi reported a record sale of liquor on Monday, a whopping 2.6 million bottles sold on a single day, compared to the average of 1.1 million bottles, according to The Times of India newspaper.