The Hindu spring celebration of Holi does not begin until 27 March, but the world famous festival of colours has already begun in a big way in parts of Uttar Pradesh, India.

Barsana village in the north Indian state is bathed in colours as part of the annual celebrations of Lathmar Holi. During the festival, which welcomes the spring, hundreds of villagers and tourists assemble in the village to start the celebrations with coloured powder.

Hindu mythology says 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.

Another important part of the festival is a mildly intoxicating drink called thandai, mixed with Bhang paste, made from cannabis. Men consume the drink as a part of the festival celebrations.

The Lathmar Holi celebration, which is unique to Uttar Pradesh, starts about a week before the actual Holi celebration.

The festival is also celebrated with some verve in India's neighbouring country of Nepal.

See the 2013 Lathmar Holi celebrations below: