Flour War on Ash Monday: The street battle fought with colored flour in Greece

In an annual tradition called the Flour War, Greek residents in the port town of Galaxidi (Greece) engage in a street battle with bags of colored flour.

It looks similar to the Holi festival in India (known as the festival of colours).

The popular event not only attracts visitors from Greece but also overseas to Galaxidi (the coastal fishing town), about 124 miles west of Athens.

Revellers participate in “flour war” as they celebrate ‘Ash Monday’ (also known as Clean Monday, Pure Monday, Monday of Lent, Green Monday), that marks the end of the carnival season, and the beginning of the Greek Orthodox Lent fast.

“It’s an outburst. You let off steam. If you are feeling depressed in Athens, the villages, anywhere with this crisis, you come here and let off steam,” said participant Efi.

Villagers fill hundreds of bags with baking flour, tinted with food coloring, to be used as bombs (just as we Indians fill balloons and small plastic bags with coloured water and target other revellers during festivals like Janmashtami).

The battle starts with the ringing of cow bells and then the flour flies as participants parade, fire flour bombs and try to douse each other with as much flour as possible. Villagers cover their houses with plastic sheeting and don goggles and plastic suits.

The custom is believed to have originated in 1801 when Galaxidi residents defied the Ottoman rulers occupying Greece by celebrating the forbidden carnival and painting their faces with ash while dancing through the streets.