The spectacular festival of colour that is the Hindu Holi celebration began last night and concludes this evening, with today’s ‘Google Doodle’ showing revellers enjoying the event.
Hindus mark the start of spring every year by staging the multi-coloured extravaganza, which dates back to the fourth century and historically celebrates the triumph of good over evil. It is also a celebration of fertility.
The festival originates in an Indian mythological legend. According to the story, supreme deity Krishna fell in love with Radha but was concerned about the difference in their skin colour, his being blue, and so his mother advised him to playfully paint her face so they matched. Lovers today continue the tradition by painting matching faces before the powder is thrown.
Like Easter, the date of Holi varies each year in accordance with lunar cycles. Rangwali Holi is the main event and takes place tonight. This is when Hindu revellers gather to throw powder and spray water – an occasion when differences of caste and ethnicity are put aside, and which makes for a spectacular photo opportunity.
According to the last census. There are 817,000 Hindus living in the UK, which represents 1.5 per cent of the population, the majority of who are in London, where this year’s festival takes place at Wembley Park.