Holi also called the Festival of Colours, is a popular Hindu spring festival celebrated mainly in India and also globally.
Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March.
Bonfires are lit the day before, also known as Holika Dahan (death of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi).
On the main day, people celebrate Holi by throwing coloured powder (gulal / abir) and coloured water at each other.
This year, Holi will be celebrated on 11th March 2009 and Holika Dahan is on 10th March 2009.
In West Bengal, Holi is known as Doljatra / Dol Purnima or Boshonto Utsav (as celebrated in Shantiniketan) and celebrated with great festivity and joy.
In Shantiniketan (the abode of Rabindranath Tagore), “Basanta Utsav (spring festival)” is celebrated in a unique way. People welcome the season 'Basanta' with music and dance.
Bengalis celebrate Holi as Dol Yatra or the swing / jhula festival where the icons of Krishna and Radha are placed on swings and women sing devotional songs, perform dances and throw gulal / abir on the deities.
Traditional delicacies (specially sweets) are prepared in advance and served while playing Dol Purnima. People visit each others houses and savor these delicious dishes like Malpoa, Rosogolla, Gulab Jamun and Peragi / Gujjia to name a few.
Sometimes to add to the festivity & fun, revelers make Thandai (a flavoured milk sometimes prepared with an intoxicant called bhang).