An Indian man throws coloured powder on a woman as they celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, in Mumbai on March 17, 2014. The festival heralds the arrival of spring. Picture: Rafiq Maqbool

New Delhi - Millions of Indians splashed bright colours on each other on Monday to celebrate the popular Hindu festival of Holi, which marks the start of spring.

The Festival of Colours saw revellers pour onto streets across the country, smearing and splashing powder, known as “gulal”, and water on others to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.

Many politicians, including ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, jubilantly celebrated Holi covered in fluorescent hues with party workers, family and friends.

“May the festival bring health, happiness and prosperity to all,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wished the country of 1.2 billion people in a statement on his website.

Opposition prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi greeted Indians on mobile phones with an audio message, in which he urged voters to change the fate of the world's largest democracy when it goes to polls next month.

“The country has been submerged into the colour of elections. Election is the festival of Holi for the democracy. Let's celebrate this festival of democracy to change the fate of India,” Modi said in his audio message.

In the capital New Delhi, neighbourhoods were splattered in a rainbow of colours as people from all walks of life playfully chased each other with water guns, water balloons and spray paint and danced to the beat of drums in clouds of flying powder.

Holi is primarily celebrated in India, Nepal and other countries with large Hindu populations. It falls on the last full moon day of the lunar month at the end of winter. - Sapa-AFP