Riot of colours as Holi celebrated with gaiety (Roundup)

March 8th, 2012 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) Vibrant red, blue, green, yellow and pink colours spread joy and merriment as people across north India celebrated the festival of Holi Thursday by smearing coloured powder on each other and exchanging sweets and greetings.

In the capital, a warm spring sun added enthusiasm to the celebrations as people came out in large numbers to play Holi.

Squeals of laughter echoed all around as the young and old alike threw colour on each other and buckets full of coloured water were squirted through ‘pichkaris’, drenching everyone within range.

Many youngsters threw water balloons on people from inside their balconies and gardens.

In crowded urban pockets, the celebrations were more robust. Large bands of revellers, armed with coloured water — deep purple, black and silver — smeared anyone they came across with colour.

Sweets, especially the traditional gujiyas, were the order of the day as people exchanged them and greeted each other. The more adventurous downed thandai (cold drink) laced with bhang to add zest to their celebrations.

In West Bengal, the festival - called “Dol Jatra” - was celebrated with colour, songs and prayers at Santiniketan, about 165 km from Kolkata, where Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore had re-introduced “Dol” as a spring festival in the Visva Bharati University he founded.

The Santiniketan campus in Birbhum district was a picture of gaiety as people danced on the streets to the strains of Tagore songs. Girls and boys of Visva-Bharati, accompanied by their teachers, went around the campus urging people through songs to open their doors (”Ore grihabasi, khol dwar khol, laglo je dol”) and usher in the spring festivities.

In some parts of West Bengal, the festival is marked by placing the idols of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin, which is carried by devotees around the town.

At Nadia district’s Mayapur, thousands of devotees from various parts of the world congregated at International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) global headquarters to celebrate the day as the birth anniversary of Vaishnav saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.

In Mumbai, youngsters indulged in a no-holds barred Holi, throwing buckets-full of water at each other, and also squirting guns and colourful “pichkaris”

Children also prepared water-filled balloons and took many of their friends and family members unawares by throwing balloons at them, drenching them with coloured water.

“I am so excited about Holi. This is fun fun fun…and I love it,” said five-year old Gaurang Kamat who was the first in his housing society in Worli in south Mumbai to take to the ground with an array of balloons, pichkaris and colours.

By afternoon, streets in Mumbai were saw all shades of colours - dry and otherwise -being thrown by people on each other. Several housing societies across Mumbai also arranged for music systems to add to the fun.

Children and adults danced to the foot-tapping numbers like “Rang barse, bheege chunarwali”, “Aaj naa chhodenge bas hum,” “Holi khele raghubeera” and so on.

The festival is associated with the legend of demon king Hiranyakashyapu whose son, Prahlad was a devotee of Vishnu. It symbolises victory of good over evil and is one of the most prominent Hindu festivals.

In Vrindavan, Holi was celebrated with enthusiasm in the Sri Krishna land from Goverdhan to Gokul in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh.

The temples were a riot of colours as devotees drenched each other with gulal.

“Its difficult to recognise faces. They all look so colourful,” said musician Acharya Jaimini.

In Mathura, groups of pilgrims showered coloured water and gulal on passersby near the Dwarkadheesh temple. And at the Vishram Ghat on Yamuna river, it was a huge cloud of red gulal, said Gopi, a priest.

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