Skip to main content
May 10, 2012

The Holi Festival of Colors in high def

A series of Holi Festival of Colors videos have become quite popular online, a prime example of the way modern camera technologies and online sharing can make even an ancient festival feel innovative and worth sharing with friends.

The Holi festival of colors is an annual Hindi celebration held to welcome spring, and takes place at the end of winter (this year it was on March 8th) mainly in countries like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal, but increasingly in other parts of the world as well. The event has become internationally recognized for its spectacularly vibrant scented powders and waters, which people throw at each other to temporarily dye their skin and clothes in honor of the colors and fragrances of the coming season. Another part of the celebration involves people of all ages gathering to sing and dance around a gigantic bonfire, which is lit while the full moon rises.


“The large festival has roots to many Hindu legends associated with the triumph of good over evil,” explains. “One of the best-known stories tells the tale of the demoness Holika, who tried to kill Prahlad, the son of the demon king Hiranyakashyap, for refusing to worship his father. Instead, Holika is consumed in flames, which is replayed each year with bonfires and effigies, before the celebrants break out the hues and cries of the festival.”

Over the last few years, the tradition has sparked international attention, particularly on YouTube and Vimeo where several videos showcase the celebratory sea of living color. What makes these videos so remarkable is that the tradition dates all the way back to at least the 7th century, when it was documented in a Sankrit drama called Ratnavali, yet it’s still being celebrated and captured in innovative ways around the world. Modern photography and video technologies have made it possible not only to share visuals of this light-hearted tradition, but also to document them with exquisite intricacy.

Radha celebrating Holi, circa 1788 (via Wikipedia)
Holi festival photo via

Below is a video of this year’s Holi celebration in India, created by Variable who captured the festival in high definition and in exceptionally slow motion.

“People and cultures inspire us,” Variable explains. “Sadly, the fast paced lifestyles of our generation result in many not taking the necessary step back to soak in the existing world around us. Our goal with this film is to help viewers further appreciate and take notice of the beauty in life & culture that lies within our world…”

Holi Around the World

Keeping a celebration this energetic and cheerful contained in one part of the world is tricky once people catch a glimpse of how fun the festivities are. Not surprisingly, Holi is now being celebrated around the world, like at the Festival of Colors in Spanish Fork, Utah, seen in the video by Brian Thompson below.

Want more? 

If looking at these videos is making you wish you could throw colored powders and water at your friends (and let them cover you in it too, of course), then you’ll love The Color Run. It’s a 5km race that’s been taking place in different cities across North America (in Canada it’s called Color Me Rad) that involves coloring participants with a different colored powder at each check point. Unlike Holi, however, you could technically continue the celebration for several months if you followed the races from city to city.

The Color Run (via Vivideer)

If you’ve ever taken part in Holi or The Color Run, what was the experience like? And for those who haven’t had the opportunity, would you give it a try?