Holi festival colours India

March 22nd, 2008 - 7:40 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) From the prime minister here to the trooper at the Pakistan border and the villager in Orissa, India Saturday celebrated Holi, the festival of colours. Spring was in the air as people shouted “Holi hai”, smeared coloured powder or worse on one another and danced to Bollywood’s Holi songs in neighbourhood after neighbourhood, city after city.

They shrieked as they were hit by water balloons or got a blast from a water gun - the Chinese-made guns that have been the rage for the past few years pack quite a punch.

Those still dissatisfied with the level of revelry upturned buckets of coloured water on friends and foes.

In New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and many other cities, hotels, clubs and resorts organised special Holi meets.

People went from home to home greeting friends and relatives with coloured powder and gorging on sweets.

Youngsters used the occasion to zoom triple on their motorcycles or packed into cars as the police looked the other way.

The rain in Hyderabad the evening before failed to dampen spirits. In the older parts of the Andhra Pradesh capital, there were many scenes of Muslims and Christians greeting their Hindu friends a day after the Muslims observed Id-e-Milad, the Christians observed Good Friday and the Parsis celebrated the start of their new year.

The Osmania University campus reverberated with Telangana folk songs as students and staff joined in the fun.

The festival’s syncretic tradition was kept up in Orissa’s Fakirtakia village in the coastal district of Jagatsinghpur, 110 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.

Legend says Budhan Saheb, a 16th century Muslim prophet, started celebrating Holi at a shrine called Satyapriya Peeth, located in Birabarpatana village nearby.

Since then, Muslim families of the village have continued the tradition. Hindus from five villages nearby bring their deities to the Muslim shrine where all celebrate Holi together.

“We love to celebrate this festival together,” Satyapriya Peeth head Sayed Saukat Ali told IANS. “We have been celebrating it the same way for the past 500 years.”

Troopers of the Border Security Force (BSF) at the Attari-Wagah border between India and Pakistan near Amritsar in Punjab danced the bhangra and distributed sweets among their counterparts from the Pakistan Rangers.

A delegation from a women’s college in Lahore, who happened to cross the border at the same time, also celebrated Holi with the BSF troopers.

In Chandigarh - the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana - a heavy police presence in most areas ensured that the festival remained almost incident-free. Youngsters still roamed city streets on motorcycles, cars and open jeeps. Policemen at the barricades let them go after a warning.

In Chhattisgarh capital Raipur, though, over 218 Holi revellers were detained from various localities for smearing colours on passers-by by force and for misbehaving with women.

The celebrations started late in Himachal Pradesh capital Shimla as the clouds kept people indoors. By the early afternoon though, big crowds were seen downtown, where people sprayed each other with coloured, often drenching the passing tourists, who did not seem to mind and sometimes joined in.

Across the country, politicians joined in the celebrations, some solemnly, some cheerfully, some boisterously.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh received his ministerial colleagues at home, Congress president Sonia Gandhi put on a pink sari to smear coloured powder on party workers, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee distributed colours and sweets to a group of children to mark the festival and Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani stayed home to greet relatives and party workers.

Railway Minister Lalu Prasad lived up to the tradition his party has set by playing kapdaphar (tear one another’s clothes off) Holi in Bihar capital Patna, with hundreds of party workers singing and dancing around him and jumping into a huge water tank in front of his house.

“Lalu Prasad becomes a common man when he plays Holi. It is his rare quality,” said Shyam Rajak, RJD national spokesperson.

The most popular water guns in Patna are those with Lalu Prasad photographs, just as those in Ranchi have photographs of cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

As the festivities wound down late afternoon, mothers across the nation looked at their multicoloured children in despair and gingerly transferred the ruined clothes from the bathroom floor to the dustbin.

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