The Hindu festival of Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours, begins on 23 March this year, but celebrations have already begun in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh with a festival called Lathmar Holi.

In this vibrant spring festival, women from the village of Barsana use bamboo sticks to beat men from the neighbouring village of Nandgaon. The men, in turn, tease the women and daub them with coloured powders. Legend has it that Lord Krishna, who lived in Nandgaon, visited his beloved Radha's village, Barsana, on this day and playfully teased her and her friends. He was chased away by the village women with sticks.

Lathmar Holi
Revellers coated in bright red powder dance and sing at the temple in BarsanaFrançois Xavier Marit/AFP
Lathmar Holi
A Hindu man with a beard dyed pink smiles at the Radha Rani temple in BarsanaFrançois Xavier Marit/AFP
Lathmar Holi
Women walk through the town of Barsana carrying bamboo sticksCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
Bags of colourful powder are prepared for the Lathmar Holi festival at the Radha Rani temple in BarsanaFrançois Xavier Marit/AFP
Lathmar Holi
Revellers covered in coloured powder during the Lathmar Holi festival at the Radha Rani temple in Barsana, some 130km from New DelhiFrançois Xavier Marit/AFP
Lathmar Holi
Men taunt a woman carrying a bamboo stickCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
Women walk through Barsana with bamboo sticksCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
Coloured powder is thrown during the Lathmar Holi festival at the Radha Rani temple in BarsanaFrançois Xavier Marit/AFP
Lathmar Holi
Hindu devotees watch the religious festival of Lathmar Holi, where women beat men with sticks, in the town of BarsanaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
A man with a painted face watches festivities in Barsana during Lathmar HoliCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
Men and women covered in coloured powder rest in the town of BarsanaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
People celebrate Lathmar Holi at a temple in BarsanaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
A man covered in purple powder poses at a temple in BarsanaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
Hindu devotees covered in coloured powder dance in the town of Barsana in the Uttar Pradesh region of IndiaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
People dance in clouds of coloured powder in BarsanaFrançois Xavier Marit/AFP
Lathmar Holi
People throw coloured powder into the air at a temple in BarsanaFrançois Xavier Marit/AFP
Lathmar Holi
Men get covered in coloured powder during the Lathmar Holi festival at the Radha Rani temple in BarsanaFrançois Xavier Marit/AFP
Lathmar Holi
Men covered with coloured powder smile during the Lathmar Holi festival at the Radha Rani temple in BarsanaFrançois Xavier Marit/AFP

The tradition of applying coloured powder on each other's face also has its origin in the legend of Radha and Krishna. According to Hindu mythology, the dark-skinned Krishna was so jealous of the fair-skinned Radha that he would sprinkle coloured powder on her in an attempt to change her complexion.