Holi 2012: A festival of spring's abundant color (PHOTOS)

A child looks on as Indian villagers smear themselves with colors during the Lathmar Holi festival at the Nandji Temple in Nandgaon, some 120 kms from New Delhi, on Mar. 3, 2012.

Today marks the second of the traditionally two-day Hindu spring festival of Holi. A holiday celebrating spring's abundant color and the end of winter, Holi closes the wide gaps between social classes and brings Hindus together. It is observed primarily in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.

The main day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, is celebrated by people throwing scented powder and perfume at each other. Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. After doing Holika Dahan, prayers are said and praise is offered.

Here are vivid images of Holi celebrations embracing spring: