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In pictures: The many different shades of Holi from across India

Holi is more than just a nationwide jamboree of multicoloured men, women and children, swinging wildly to music, often with a dose of bhaang, that potent cannabis-based drink. The Hindu festival of colours is actually a collection of disparate celebrations, from quaint folk dances to altogether more violent variants.

Let Quartz take you on a photographic journey throughout the country, exploring the many different shades of Holi.

Lathmar Holi

In the neighbouring towns of Barsana and Nandgaon in Uttar Pradesh, Holi involves men dousing colour over women, who then retaliate by chasing them with long bamboo sticks. Lathmar (basically “to hit with a stick” in Hindi) Holi, as it is known here, draws from the legend of Hindu god Krishna teasing his beloved Radha and her friends.

AP Photo/Saurabh Das
Hindu men from Barsana village tease women of Nandgaon during Lathmar holi festival celebrations in Nandgaon.
Reuters/Ahmad Masood
A man shields himself from a woman playfully beating him with a stick during Lathmar Holi at Barsana in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on Feb. 27, 2015.
Reuters/Ahmad Masood
Men are seen covered with coloured powder as they celebrate Lathmar Holi at Barsana in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Feb. 27, 2015.
Reuters/Ahmad Masood
A man throws coloured water as he celebrates Lathmar Holi at Nandgaon, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on Feb. 28, 2015.
Reuters/Ahmad Masood
Men daubed in colours sing religious songs as they celebrate Lathmar Holi at Nandgaon, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, on Feb. 28, 2015.

Dauji ka huranga

In Dauji, another town in Uttar Pradesh, crowds assemble at the Baldev temple a day after Holi. Here tradition dictates that copious amounts of coloured water are poured over women, who then proceed to rip the clothes off the back of the men gathered.

Reuters/Ahmad Masood
Women tear shirts off men during “Huranga” at Dauji temple, near the northern Indian city of Mathura.
Reuters//Ahmad Masood
Women tear a shirt off a man during “Huranga” at Dauji temple, near the northern Indian city of Mathura.
Reuters//Ahmad Masood
Women tear a shirt off a man during “Huranga” at Dauji temple, near the northern Indian city of Mathura.
AP Photo/ Rajesh Kumar Singh
An Indian boy plays in a pool of coloured water, at the end of Holi celebrations, the Hindu festival of colours at the Baldev Temple in Dauji.

Dol jatra

In eastern India, the celebrations are far more sedate. In parts of West Bengal and Orissa, for instance, Dol Jatra is traditionally celebrated with dry coloured powder, amidst song and dance.

AP Photo/Bikas Das
Students of Rabindra Bharati University play with coloured powder during spring festival celebrations in Kolkata.
AP Photo/ Bikas Das
People put coloured powder on the face of a girl as they celebrate Holi in Kolkata on March 6, 2015.
AP Photo/ Bikas Das
Students at the Rabindra Bharati University, named after India’s first Noble laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore, play with colours ahead of spring festival Holi in Kolkata, on March 2, 2015.
Reuters/Jayanta Shaw
Indian students from Rabindra Bharati University dance as they celebrate Basanta Utsab, or Spring Festival, in Kolkata.

Holla Mohalla

In Anandpur Sahib, a holy shrine of the Sikhs in Punjab, the festival of colours coincides with Holla Mohalla. For over a week, Sikhs converge in large numbers to offer prayers and celebrate the birth of Khalsa, or the warrior tradition, started by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh leader.

Reuters/Ajay Verma
A group of Nihangs (Sikh warriors) throw colours on each other during the Holla Mohalla festival in the northern Indian city of Anandpur Sahib, on March 26, 2005.
Reuters/Ajay Verma
“Nihangs”, or Sikh warriors, apply coloured powders to each other’s faces during the Holla Mohalla festival in Anandpur Sahib, in Punjab on March 26, 2005.

Yaoshang

In the northeastern state of Manipur, the Holi is replaced by Yaoshang, a quaint spring celebration with much music and dance.

And at night, under the full moon, young Manipuris gather for the Thabal Chongba, the moonlight dance.

Festival of flowers

In the north Indian town of Vrindavan, Hindu widows, who typically are kept away from celebrations in this temple town, now partake in Holi festivities awash with flowers and colour.

Reuters/Adnan Abidi
Widows daubed in colours chant religious hymns as they take part in the Holi celebrations organised by non-governmental organisation Sulabh International at a widows’ ashram at Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh on March 5, 2015.
Reuters/Adnan Abidi
A widow daubed in colours chant religious hymns as she takes part in the Holi celebrations organised by non-governmental organisation Sulabh International at a widows’ ashram at Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh on March 5, 2015.
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