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though holi officially begins this friday, celebrations for the lathmar holi festival began last saturday in the small indian villages of nandgaon and barsana, in the northern state of uttar pradesh. 

men from one village sing provocative songs to gain the attention of the women in the other village, who then pretend to beat them back with bamboo sticks called lathis.

the tradition is based on the story of lord krishna, who is said to from nandgaon, and his shepherd friends flirtatiously throwing colours on radha, who is from barsana, and her cowherd girls, who in turn chased them off with sticks. 

photos by daniel berehulak, jan kostal, ahmad masoodmahesh kumar and sanjay patel

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"I enjoy sharing the stories behind the images. Before social media, smartphones and digital swag, I’d carry around prints in mini-albums and speak with anyone who’d listen. I really miss engaging that way. Especially regarding my travels within Africa. Although there are photography masters that came from that region (Seydou Keita and Malick Sidibe of Mali) and the great Mama Casset and Oumar Ly of Senegal, who have created beautiful and important images, photography has a complex history as it related to colonial times. The French used the photograph to document and categorize the ethnic communities. So the association with outsiders coming to photograph doesn’t incite the best collective memories. I try to be as engaging as possible with the individuals I wish to photograph, which usually involves breaking bread, spending extended amounts of time with them, or at the very least, sharing their picture with them. That helps with them knowing that there is positive intentions behind my photography work." - Exploring Senegal with Laylah Amatullah Barrayn

From A Winter in Siberia, one of 25 photos. Pedestrians walk past a truck with a giant Soviet Red Army hat seen on it, an installation created by Russian artist Vasily Slonov, during the annual “Winter Virage” motor sports festival dedicated to the Defender of the Fatherland Day on the embankment of the Yenisei River in Russia’s Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk on February 23, 2015. (Reuters/Ilya Naymushin)

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Sen. Barbara Mikulski to retire after 4 decades of breaking barriers

Longtime Senator Barbara Mikulski will not be seeking reelection, capping her historic congressional career after 40 years. Assuring reporters at a press conference Monday morning that “there is nothing gloomy about this announcement,” Mikulski explained that her decision had nothing to do with health problems or frustrations with the Senate, but instead was based on a desire to spend the last two years of her term campaigning for her constituents rather than herself. (Caitlin Dickson/Yahoo News)

(Photos by AP Photo/Steve Ruark, REUTERS/Gary Cameron, AP Photo/Dennis Cook, Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images, AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

See more images of Barbara Mikulski and our other slideshows on Yahoo News!

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Creating A Dream fundraiser is now live: http://igg.me/at/creatingadream/
"There is a place where the distinction between waking life and dreaming life is blurred. A place where people gather to create a model of a new world, a world they only dream about. In this new world, creativity is limitless and there is absolute freedom of expression. People are unafraid to connect with one another. Upon meeting there is immediate affection, there is eye contact. People experience each other’s energy and recognize each other’s spirits. They encourage one another toward personal growth in mind, body, and spirit. Societal boundaries are broken. In this place the sacred is respected and celebrated. 

In May of 2014, I experienced my first Transformational Festival, Lightning In A Bottle. Some friends of mine had an installation at this festival, and they brought me on the team to photograph their project. Initially, I thought this was going to be like any other music festival I had attended in the past. Except, it featured electronic music. What I found, instead, was a safe and creative environment for an emerging culture to thrive; a culture dedicated to expanding human awareness by cultivating love in our relationships with each other, ourselves, and our environment. People of this culture see each other as mirror reflections of themselves. Transformational Festivals are immersive, participatory realities that inspire positive change within the participants.

Creating A Dream is my effort to document a new culture that illuminates hope, creativity, joy, and love. Through still photographs and short films, I invite the viewer to experience these festivals and people the way I experience them.” 

Please visit the Creating A Dream Indiegogo page now to donate and share with friends! You can donate as little as a dollar, but there are some pretty cool perks the more you give! 

Please share this video on your blog!

embrace-your-earth you-are-the-universe lunarfossil BLOOM is in this!!
Featuring in the video: lightninginabottlefestival  dreadedgrape  nataliabenson-la  … and can someone tell me what Alice’s tumblr name is now?

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Real Father Figures with @zunleephoto

Zun’s exhibition Father Figure: Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood will be on display at the BAND Gallery in Toronto, Canada until April 2, 2015. To see more of his images, follow @zunleephoto on Instagram.

The Father Figure project by Zun Lee (@zunleephoto) came about as the result of Zun’s examination of his own personal history, his desire to confront stereotypes and to show the reality of life for everyday dads. A Toronto-based healthcare consultant by trade, Zun uses photography to document the lives of African-American men and their children.

When he was in his mid-30s, Zun’s mother revealed that his biological father was an African-American man who had left when she was pregnant. Zun realized that the absence of his own biological father echoed society’s negative stereotypes. “There’s a lot of stereotypes about African-American men out there, and I guess I’m now becoming part of the narrative,” says Zun. “But at the same time, I know that the reality is a lot more complex. The motivation for me was to remember my childhood through this project, and to also say there’s a lot of focus in the media on the stereotype of the absent, deadbeat dad that doesn’t care. You see that everyday.”

Zun says there isn’t enough focus on the men that are actually there. “On the one hand, you have the negative stereotypes, and on the other hand, what is proposed as a counter image is usually the perfect magical African-American father,” Zun explains, referring to TV personalities or celebrity dads. “You have to wonder, if you are an African-American father, or father period, how realistic is it for you to have to aspire to those unattainable role models? That’s not really ever going to be your situation.”

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photos for the laia foundation by pep avila in vedanthanga, a village in the indian state of tamil nadu, where most residents are dalits, or those who are traditionally regarded in the caste system as untouchables. 

though ‘untouchability’ is barred in india’s constitution, dalits (which translates as broken or crushed) remain an ostracized community in vedanthanga, prevented from owning land and forced to work jobs other castes see as beneath them. 

the laia foundation, founded after the 2004 tsunami, works with the dalits of vedanthanga, contributing to their social and economic development through educational, health and women’s empowerment projects.

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Bela Doka: Fan Club Putin

Fan clubs are big business around the world. Members spend millions on merchandise and trip conventions, where they are united through the collective glow of adoration for anything from Star Trek to sausages.

But in the suburbs of Moscow, a group of fresh-faced students wearing bright orange t-shirts can claim to be part of one of the world’s most unusual appreciation societies.

Since the members of this club have an average age of 18, it would be reasonable to imagine the object of their devotion to be a boy band or a hot new film star. But no, the 1,500 members of the “VV Fan Club” have a more heavyweight idol—the Russian president, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

The teenage members of the VV Putin fan club idolize their president as a savior. In their eyes, he is far away from the growing threat to democracy and global stability that many (both inside and outside Russia) portray him as.

Many of the female members of the group venerate this clean-living, strong and strangely handsome president as a father figure—or even as an ideal husband.

"He is the perfect politician, sportsman and family man!" gushes Vika Matorina, 18.

I spent 2 weeks with the VV fan club and was surprised by the level of support for Putin, whose image appears on posters above the student’s beds, on badges, and superimposed over the Russian tricolore hanging next to makeshift shrines.

They spend hours chatting on the internet about their hero and even go to university wearing Putin T-shirts. I was really shocked at how they could feel such intense love for him.

—Bela Doka