MADRID — A Madrid city square exploded in a color kaleidoscope when hundreds of Spaniards and tourists celebrated their version of a traditional Hindu religious festival.
Around 300 revelers packed the Plaza de Agustin de Lara on Saturday, where they tossed handfuls of colored powder at one another and danced to the rhythms made popular by India's Bollywood films.
The Holi festival is held each spring in India and other countries in southern Asia where the Hindu religion is practiced, and its popularity has grown recently in other countries.
While the festival's organizers in Madrid were mainly Hindu immigrants, the majority of the partygoers were young, scantily dressed Spaniards.
Participants bought small pouches of colored powder— red, blue, green, yellow, orange and purple— for €2 ($2.68) each, which they then launched in the air, quickly turning the multitude into a seething mishmash of rainbow colors.
Some had come dressed in all-white garb; others risked the ruin of whatever clothes they were wearing or went shirtless to turn their torsos into canvases.
In India and Nepal, the Holi festival is celebrated by worshippers of Vishnu and one of his incarnations, Krishna. It is usually held in March to mark the beginning of the monsoon season.
The Mediterranean version was a purely festive affair that attracted many tourists. This was second time the festival was held in Madrid, but the first time it was held outdoors. Similar Holi festivals have been held in Barcelona and in other countries.