Imtiyaz Shaikh / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

23 Exhilarating Holi Photos That Put The Color Run To Shame

India celebrates the arrival of spring

Spring is coming! Wednesday, March 23 marked the beginning of Holi, a two-day religious festival celebrated in India, Nepal, and, more recently, around the world. It dates back to the fourth century and honors spring's arrival and the new beginnings that come with it.

Lunar phases determine the holiday's exact dates, which usually fall in March. The Holika Dahan bonfire, symbolizing the victory of good over evil, kicks everything off the first night. The name "Holi" itself comes from the demon Holika, who Hindu mythology says burned to death. Hindus may sing, dance, pray, or perform religious rituals during this time.

The next day -- called Rangwali Holi, Chhoti Holi, or simply the festival of colors -- people continue the celebration with vibrant powder that takes entirely too long to wash out of your hair. (I'm speaking from experience.)

Founded in March 2011, the Color Run built its now global event around Holi's signature powder. Runners have been throwing colors on anyone within arm's reach ever since.

Jordan Mansfield / Getty Images

It brands itself as the "happiest 5k on the planet." I've never participated in one, but this statement is probably accurate. How could you not be happy while surrounded by rainbows? Holi is an exciting holiday, so it's no wonder people, regardless of their religion or location, want in on the fun. Even Coldplay and Beyoncé filmed a Holi-themed music video.

I can't speak for all Indian-Americans, but for me, Holi is a joy no matter where I am or who I'm celebrating with. Even if they aren't Indian, it's an opportunity to share my culture with them. The Color Run, sadly, doesn't provide this opportunity. The race makes zero mention of India on its website and completely detaches itself from Hinduism, the religion that inspired it.

"Personally, I love it when I can bring my non-Desi friends to the annual campus Holi function," Nadya Agrawal wrote in a 2013 personal essay for Brown Girl Magazine. "I can show them a part of my heart and an aspect of my identity as a strong Brown woman. The Color Run robs me of that chance ... they lose the culture and the tradition, but they keep our colors."

So let's add some context to the Color Run and the comparable Run Or Dye race, the "world's most colorful 5k." Here's what Holi looks like across the globe, running sneakers not required:

  1. Sivasagar, India
    STR / AFP / Getty Images
  2. St. Petersburg, Russia
    Olga Maltseva / AFP / Getty Images
  3. Mumbai, India
    Imtiyaz Shaikh / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
  4. New York, New York
    Mario Tama / Getty Images
  5. Vrindavan, India
    Fatih Aktas / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
  6. Turin, Italy
    Elena Aquila / Pacific Press / LightRocket
  7. Kathmandu, Nepal
    Narayan Maharjan / Pacific Press / LightRocket
  8. London, England
    Rob Stothard / Getty Images
  9. Burgos, Spain
    Cesar Manso / AFP / Getty Images
  10. Moscow, Russia
    Dmitry Serebryakov / AFP / Getty Images
  11. New Delhi, India
    Raj K Raj / Hindustan Times
  12. Dresden, Germany
    Robert Michael / AFP / Getty Images
  13. Kolkata, India
    Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP / Getty Images
  14. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    Mohd Rasfan / AFP / Getty Images
  15. Brooklyn, New York
    Cem Ozdel / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
  16. Lebanon, Beirut
    Ratib Al Safadi / Anadolu Agency/ Getty Images
  17. Toronto, Canada
    Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star
  18. Jammu, India
    Nitin Kanotra / Hindustan Times
  19. Dhaka, Bangladesh
    Zakir Hossain Chowdhury / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
  20. Chandigarh, India
    Ryan Pierse / Getty Images
  21. Noida, India
    Burhaan Kinu / Hindustan Times
  22. Mumbai, India

    Even Lilly Singh, YouTube's IISuperwomanII, and MC Humble the Poet paused their busy schedules to get their Holi on.

  23. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    And here's one of me and my friends celebrating Holi at the University of Pennsylvania in Philly! (I'm in the middle.)

    Happy HOLIday, everyone!