United colours of Holi bind West Bengal

March 21st, 2008 - 6:19 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata, March 21 (IANS) Colour, song and prayers marked the festival of Holi - or Dol Jatra as it is called here - Friday in West Bengal, where it was celebrated a day ahead of northern and western India. As always, the high point of the festival in the state was in Santiniketan, where poet Rabindranath Tagore had reintroduced it as a spring festival in the Visva Bharati university he founded.

Santiniketan, about 180 km from the state capital here, was a picture of gaiety as people danced on the streets to the tune of Tagore songs that exhorted everyone to mingle in joy.

The festival was a blend of traditions in this metropolis, from prayers to exchanging sweets.

Then it was time for everyone, especially youngsters, to move around their neighbourhoods in groups and smear coloured powder on one another.

“This is an occasion to forget all social barriers. It’s an occasion to embrace everyone and share love and happiness irrespective of class and religion,” said Kallol Maity, a south Kolkata resident.

In parts of Bengal, the festival is celebrated by placing the idols of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin that is then taken around the town.

The devotees take turns to carry the palanquin while others dance around and sing hymns. And everyone keeps spraying coloured water and smearing coloured powder on everyone else.

The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (Iskcon) at its global headquarters at Mayapur in Nadia district, about 130 km from here, observed the day as one on which Vaishnav saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was born.

“We celebrate the day as Mahaprabhu’s appearance day with songs and cultural programmes. We talk about his life and teaching and pray before his deity. We don’t play with colour,” Nitai Das, general manager of Iskcon at Mayapur, told IANS.

Security was tight throughout the state and officials said no major untoward incident was reported.

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