After two years of interruption due to a health emergency, one of India’s main popular festivals, Holi, which marks the seasonal change and the arrival of spring, is being celebrated these days.

Known as the festival of colours, and sometimes the festival of love, it is an ancient Hindu religious festival that has also become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as with people from other communities.

On this day, people throw coloured powders and waters at each other in a friendly manner and transgress the still-tight social constraints of caste, gender, status and age. The result is usually a multi-coloured human cloth accompanied by great collective joy.

On the night before, a large ritual pyre, Holika Dahan, is lit, symbolically burning the Devil (Holika).

Amidst the general merriment, this year there were also several environmental organisations that referred to the need to take care of water and stop the devastation of the soil, problems that affect hundreds of millions of people in the country.

Humanist activist Sudhir Gandotra shares that “the festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the coming of spring, the end of winter, and for many a holiday to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and mend broken relationships.”

He adds that the celebration also has another cultural meaning: it is a holiday to end and get rid of past wrongs, to end conflicts by getting to know others, a day to forget and forgive.

“A good opportunity to reconcile with the past and start afresh with passion for Dignity for all, treating all as Human without any discrimination, to build the Universal Human Nation,” concludes the message of the Indian humanists.