People across India celebrated the country's most flamboyant festival, Holi, which marks the beginning of spring.
The festival, which is celebrated every year with great fervour, traditionally includes extensive use of coloured powder also known as gulal. People smear the powder in dry and wet forms on each other's face and throw colours in the air to welcome the colourful season of spring.
Holi is also regarded as the festival to celebrate good yield. There are many interseting legends associated with the festival.
A mythological belief has it that Lord Krishna would go to Barsana village, where his lover Radha resided, and would tease her and her friends, known as Gopis, with colours. However, Radha and the Gopis would chase Krishna and his friends out with sticks. The legend also says that the dark-skinned Krishna was so jealous of the fair-skinned Radha that he would try to change her skin colour by sprinkling colours on her.
According to another popular legend, Holika, sister of king of demons Hiranyakashipu, was burned to ashes while trying to kill her nephew Prahlada, a Lord Vishnu devotee. The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi as a victory of good over evil.
Though the basic tradition of Holi across India includes playing with colors and indulging in traditional confectioneries, certain customs are unique to only a few regions.
Lathmar Holi, which is unique to Nandgaon and Barsana villages in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, men sing provocative songs to gain the attention of women, who then beat them with bamboo sticks called lathis.
Take a look at the spectacular images of the festival of colours...