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The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in the month of Phagun (early March). Holi announces the onset of spring after the end of winter. According to one popular legend, the festival of Holi is celebrated to mark the burning of the evil demon ‘Holika’. Yet another legend holds that Holi marks the death of the female demon ‘Putana’, who tried to kill the child Krishna by making it, suckle her poisoned breasts. Thus, Holi signifies the triumph of good over evil. This lively festival is also associated with the eternal love of Radha-Krishna, and hence, ‘Kama’ or the ‘God of Love’, is revered during the festival in several parts of the country.

Apart from the usual fun with coloured powder (gulal) and water, Holi is marked by vibrant processions that are accompanied by folk songs, dances and a general sense of abandoned vitality, amidst uninhibited consumption of Marijuana-based drinks like ‘bhang’ and ‘thandai’. In rural Maharashtra the festival is known as ‘Rangapanchami’ while in West Bengal Holi it is celebrated as ‘Dolyatra’ or 'Basanta Utsav'. In Bengal, the people do the 'Probhat-pheri' i.e. singing songs of Holi based on Rabindranath Tagore.


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