Worshippers across India are preparing to wave goodbye to winter and see in the start of spring with the vibrant Hindu festival of Holi.
Also known as the Festival of Colours, Holi began as a celebration of abundance harvests, fertile land and the vivid hues of the new spring leaves.
This year the Holi festival will fall on March 27, although it will take place a day earlier in parts of eastern India such as West Bengal.
On the eve of the festival the skies are filled with smoke as enormous bonfires are lit to burn the remains of winter and evil spirits, known as Holika Dahan, and commemorate the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika carried him into the fire.
The festivities roar into life on the day itself with music, singing, dancing, exchanging of sweets and the throwing of brightly coloured powder and water over one other, with revellers washing themselves by dancing under water sprinklers.
The name "Festival of Colours" derives from Lord Krishna, who Hindus believe was a re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who liked to play pranks on the village girls by drenching them in water and colours.
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