Holi is a festival that marks the arrival of spring and also known widely as the Festival of Color, it takes place over two days, and is celebrated as religious festival, festival of color and love, as well as the triumph of good versus evil.
Every year the festival celebrations begin on the evening of the full moon that comes in 'Phagun' (between the end of February and the middle of March), carrying on into the next day. This year, it begins on March 9.
The first evening is known as Holika Dahan. Festival-goers traditionally gather around a bonfire to celebrate the victory of good over evil. They perform religious rituals, which include prayers that any evil inside of them is destroyed.
The following day is called Dhuleti. This is when the famous colorful powders are thrown, mixing with water from water guns and water balloons.
Holika, the sister of the Hindu demon king Hiranyakashipu. The demon king was granted immortality with five powers: He could be killed by neither animals nor humans, He could be killed neither indoors nor outdoors, He could be killed neither during the day nor at night, He could be killed on neither land, water nor air, He could be killed by neither projectile nor handheld weapons.
When his immortality turned him evil and he began to kill anyone who disobeyed him, his son, Prahlad, decided to kill him. When the king found out, he asked his sister Holika for help; in their plan she would wear a cloak which stopped her from being harmed by fire and take Prahlad into a bonfire with her. However the cloak flew from Holika's shoulders while she was in the fire and covered Prahlad; he was protected but she burnt to death.
Lord Vishnu then appeared to kill Hiranyakashipu by sidestepping his five powers. He took the form of Narasimha, who was half-human and half-lion; he met him on a doorstep, which is neither indoors nor outdoors; he appeared at dusk, which is neither day nor night; he placed his father on his lap, which is neither land, water nor air; and he attacked him with his lion claws, which are neither projectile nor handheld weapons.
While Hiranyakashipu and Holika came to represent evil, Vishnu and Prahlad came to represent good. The story shows the victory of good over evil, which is why it is tied to the festival.
The colored powder - or gulal - thrown on the second day of the festival comes from the legend of Krishna. Anyone at Holi is fair game to be covered in the perfumed powder as a celebration of Krishna and Radha's love, regardless of age or social status. The powder also signifies the coming of spring and all the new colors it brings to nature.