Colorful Indian festival of Holi to be celebrated Saturday at Girard Park in Lafayette _lowres

File photo provided by Nicole Marie LaCour -- The 2013Holi Festival at Girard Park in Lafayette.

Friends, family and strangers will smear and pat each other with powdered colors on Saturday at Girard Park at Acadiana’s annual Festival of Colors, also known as Holi.

Festivities run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free, but colors will be sold for $5.

Holi is an ancient Indian festival that occurs in the spring, and is a time to laugh, play, meet new people and repair broken relationships.

Nikhil Akkaraju, current board member and last year’s president of the local Acadiana Indian Association Inc., said the festival is a good way of sharing the Indian culture with the community.

“It’s a festival community here and the Indian culture is full of festivals, too, so I feel like it’s a good match,” he said.

The local Indian community had been gathering for Holi for years and they would hold the celebration at a member’s house.

Eventually they began to hold it at Girard Park when the gathering became too large for one house.

At the park, it received enough attention that the association decided to open it to the public in 2011.

While the open festival started as a few hundred people, last year’s attendance was in the thousands, and over 10,000 bags of powered colors were sold, and heaved, at the event, Akkaraju said.