Millions of Indians on Wednesday celebrated the Holi festival, dancing to the beat of drums, smearing each other with green, yellow and red colours 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 coloured 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 colourful Holi!” tweeted prime minister Narendra Modi.

People celebrate Holi, the festival of colors on a street in Guwahati, India (Anupam Nath/AP)

Bollywood stars and other celebrities organised parties for friends and posted pictures 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.

Devotees cheer as coloured powder and water is sprayed on them during celebrations marking Holi at the Kalupur Swaminarayan temple in Ahmedabad, India (Ajit Solanki/AP)

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 alcohol on Monday, with 2.6 million bottles sold on a single day, compared with the average of 1.1 million bottles, according to The Times of India newspaper.