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The Hindu festival of Holi, celebrated at the beginning of each Spring, is one time the highly structured society in India lets its hair down. The festival commemorates the miraculous escape of the devout Prahalada from fiery doom at the hands of the demon Holika, and is built on the roots of an older festival.
Devotees (and a growing number of tourists) celebrate by building bonfires and throwing intensely-colored powders on each other, in a kind of high-spirited, religious version of paintball. People ambush one another, pranks are played, and there is some competition to see who can get the most different colors sprayed on themselves (blue is rare and coveted). Social strictures are relaxed, and for at least the duration of the festival classes mingle more freely than they generally do.
It is, participants assure us, a riot in the best sense of the word.
This GIF of a crowd at Holi, going from monochrome to full, vivid colour, sums up its transformative power from Winter doldrums to Spring flowering in just two seconds. Originally posted on the Tumblr Ducks Fly Together, it’s gotten 91,872 notes so far.