Holi is an exuberant show of goodwill and love between humans and for their Gods. The actual festival of Holi takes place on a day called Parva (the actual day depends on the season, this year it is on March 10, last it was March 20).

Children, friends and neighbors gather on the streets and a riot of color takes over. Colored powders called abeer or gulal are thrown into the air and smeared on faces and bodies. Gulal is made up of many rich colors like magenta, red, yellow and green. Abeer is made of small crystals or paper like chips of mica. This is usually mixed with the gulal to give it a rich shine. These colours can be used dry, or mixed with water. Pichkaris are filled with colored water and this is spurted onto people. Water balloons are thrown at friends and neighbors in the spirit of fun. Sometimes, mud baths are prepared and people are dunked into this amidst much laughter and teasing. The visitors carry abeer or gulal to pay their respects to elders by sprinkling some on their feet. The younger crowd is drenched with buckets of coloured water and pummeled with water balloons. Dholaks, or Indian drums, are heard everywhere and the songs of Holi are carried by the voices of the people.

There isn't any worship associated with this festival of colors. However, some of the colored powders are smeared on the faces of the Gods, especially Krishna and Radha, at the commencement of the festivities.

The colors themselves represent the death of winter and the rebirth of the vibrant Spring. The night before the festival, the dead leaves and branches left over from winter are burned in a huge fire. The fire metaphorically meaning the death of evil.

The festival of Holi also has its traditions. On the day of the festival, children are painted to represent Gods and are given candy or some gift by passers-by. My personal favorite, is the custom of unmarried women getting to beat whomever they are interested in with a stick. As the colors are being thrown in the air, the single women pick out a male they like, and holding their veil back with one hand so that all you can see is one painted eye, they beat him as hard as they can while his back is arched and everybody laughs about it.

At the end of the festival, all the colors that have been thrown onto people have been mixed to be a dark grayish color. You can't distinguish one person from the next. This is a metaphor for everybody being not a seperate soul, but as part of one universal soul.

Perhaps the rest of the world should take notice of this. Very seldomly do you ever hear about masses of people just letting loose, having a good time, and showing love for one another unreservedly (even if it is by thrashing you with a stick).