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New Delhi, Mar 2: Holi or Rang Panchami, the festival of colours will be celebrated today across the country. Holi celebration has already begun in some parts of the country mainly in North India and streets are filled with colour-smeared people who are relishing gujiyas and delicious malpuas, not to forget thandai especially ones laced with bhangHolika Dahan, which symbolises the victory of good over evil, fell on Thursday a day before Holi and celebrations began on the night of the first day with a Holika bonfire. Catch live updates, pictures and videos of Holi celebration from across the country here.

Holi not only signifies the victory of good over evil but also the arrival of spring and end of winter. The festival of colours is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest. However, Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival, it has become popular among non-Hindus as well and is now celebrated beyond the Indian subcontinent. On Holi, people smear each other with colours and drench each other. Water guns and water-filled balloons are also used to play and colour each other. People visit family, friends and foes to throw coloured powders on each other and share Holi delicacies.

Holi is celebrated as a festival of colours in the honour of Hindu god Vishnu and his follower Prahlada. According to a legend found in chapter 7 of Bhagavata Purana, King Hiranyakashipu was the king of demonic Asuras, and had earned a boon that gave him five special powers. He became arrogant and demanded that everyone worship only him. His son, Prahlada, however, remained devoted to Vishnu. For this, Prahlada was subjected to cruel punishments by his father. Later, Holika, Prahlada’s evil aunt, tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. She was wearing a cloak to protect herself from the fire. (ALSO READ: In Kullu, People Celebrate Traditional Holi Festival For 40 Long Days)

As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada who survived while Holika burned. Vishnu emerged in the form of Narasimha – half human and half lion – and killed Hiranyakashyapu with his lion claws. So the Holi signifies the celebration of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the fire that burned Holika.