by Peerzada Arshad Hamid
NEW DELHI, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Having faces smeared with bright colors - red, yellow, green, pink and blue, locals including women and children Friday celebrated Holi across India with enthusiasm.
The participants gathered outside their houses holding colors in plates and applied on each other to express love and affection.
Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, is one of India's merriest festivals.
Young and old, including women and children, were seen splashing and smearing colors on each other, besides exchanging pleasantries.
The teenagers and young men drenched in water colors walked along roads and streets, throwing colors and hitting each other with color-filled balloons, besides aiming at passers-by.
"The festival allows us to enjoy some moments with friends in a carefree manner," Abishekh Sinha, a Lajpat Nagar resident said. "The festival brings us close to each other and helps us to cheer-up."
Holi is an ancient Indian festival, which marks end of winter and onset of spring season.
Hued in colors, the participants were seen dancing to the beats of drums and songs of famous Bollywood music.
Many people were seen taking selfies with their mobile phones, capturing the colorful moments during the celebration.
"These are golden moments as all the members of our family have gathered to celebrate this festival," said Avantika Suresh, a Karol Bagh resident. "After all this is one such occasion when all of us are together, so this moment needs to be cherished and preserved in photographs."
The major celebrations took place in Mathura city in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, the birth place of Hindu god Krishna.
Celebrations started 40 days ahead of the main Holi in the city.
The celebrations at Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana attracted tourists from across the globe.
Holi is being celebrated by Hindus every year in India. It is a public holiday in most Indian states.
The festival is mostly popular with the young and children, who begin the colorful celebrations several days ahead of the main festival. On the eve of Holi, elderly people too join in.
The festival is celebrated by smearing colors and splashing colored water on each other. In playing Holi, for revellers, anyone and everyone is a fair game.
"While playing holy, there is no difference between friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders," Ajay Malhotra said. "Whosoever comes by has to be applied color."
However, this year, female students in New Delhi protested to what they described harassment in the name of Holi. The protest was triggered earlier this week, when an 18-year-old student posted on social media that a semen-filled balloon was hurled at her near her college - Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi University.
Following it, several female students said they were scared of walking on the streets and protested "Holi hooliganism."
Social network websites on Internet were also abuzz with the Holi greetings and colorful pictures. People also greet each other by sending Holi messages and animated graphics interchange format (GIFs) on their mobile phones.