The Atlantic

How Holi Got Politicized

India’s festival of colors is usually a religious and cultural celebration, but this year it had a distinctly partisan hue.

Source: Adnan Abidi / Reuters

Water guns were poised, sniper-style, from rooftop terraces. Rivers of red slushy water streamed down the roads. Motorcyclists, wielding fistfuls of candy-colored powder, launched drive-by assaults. And on a packed street corner, throngs of men, caked in chalky pink dust, shimmied wildly.

In Mathura, birthplace of the Hindu god Krishna, India’s springtime festival of colors was reaching fever pitch. Each March, the two-day Holi festival sees millions of revelers pour into the streets and pummel each other with bright-colored powders, home-concocted dyes, and water balloons to honor the courtship of Krishna and his lover, Radha. To an

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