The Hindu festival of Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours, begins on 12 March this year, but celebrations have already begun in many Indian states. In Uttar Pradesh state, people are celebrating what is known as Lathmar Holi, a vibrant spring festival celebrated ahead of the Holi festival. Lathmar Holi sees 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. IBTimesUK takes a look at some of the best pictures from the festival:

Lathmar Holi
Women beat men with sticks (Lathi) during celebrations for Lathmar Holi in Barsana on the outskirts of Mathura in the northern Indian state of Uttar PradeshAFP/Getty Images
Lathmar Holi
Women beat men with sticks (Lathi) during celebrations for Lathmar Holi in Barsana on the outskirts of Mathura in the northern Indian state of Uttar PradeshAFP/Getty Images
Lathmar Holi
A man throws coloured powder during Holi celebrations in the town of Barsana in the state of Uttar Pradesh, IndiaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
Men blow coloured powder during Holi celebrations in the town of Barsana in the state of Uttar Pradesh, IndiaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
Indian devotees throw coloured powder during celebrations for Lathmar Holi in Barsana on the outskirts of Mathura in the northern Indian state of Uttar PradeshAFP/Getty Images
Lathmar Holi
People throw coloured powder during Holi celebrations in the town of Barsana in the state of Uttar Pradesh, IndiaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
Devotees throw coloured powder during celebrations for Lathmar Holi in Barsana on the outskirts of Mathura in the northern Indian state of Uttar PradeshAFP/Getty Images
Lathmar Holi
Indian devotees covered in coloured powder take part in celebrations for Lathmar Holi in Barsana on the outskirts of Mathura in the northern Indian state of Uttar PradeshAFP/Getty Images
Lathmar Holi
Women cover their faces during Holi celebrations in the town of Barsana in the state of Uttar Pradesh, IndiaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
A woman poses for a photograph during Holi celebrations in the town of Barsana in the state of Uttar Pradesh, IndiaCathal McNaughton/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
A labourer sifts coloured powder, known as 'gulal', to be used during the forthcoming spring festival of Holi, inside a factory at Fulbari village on the outskirts of SiliguriDiptendu Dutta/AFP
Lathmar Holi
Workers sieve coloured powder before being packed for sale inside a workshop ahead of Holi festival of colour in Kolkata, IndiaRupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters
Lathmar Holi
A labourer sifts coloured powder, known as 'gulal' inside a factory at Fulbari village on the outskirts of Siliguri, IndiaDiptendu Dutta/AFP
Lathmar Holi
A shopkeeper sells water guns at a roadside stall ahead of the Hindu festival of Holi in Siliguri, IndiaDiptendu Dutta/AFP