Green, magenta, red, yellow, purple - clouds of coloured gulal,
smiling faces smeared with them, joyful dancing and sweetmeats -
that is how India Sunday immersed itself in Holi, one of the Hindu
festivals celebrated most widely by all -- be it young or old, rich
or poor, and irrespective of religion.
Heralding the coming of spring and marking the legend of triumph of
good over evil, Holi saw people spill out onto the streets hurling
coloured powder and coloured water - and even mud - at each other.
The neighbourhoods of the capital erupted in celebrations in the
morning. Elders hugged, smeared gulal on each other's faces and
exchanged sweets, especially the traditional gujiya, and drank 'thandai'
-- a cooling drink made with dried fruits and milk.
Shouting "Holi hai", children, armed with water guns or pitchkaris,
did what they do best -- played pranks by spraying coloured water
and hurling water-filled balloons on passers by from the safety of
rooftops and balconies of their houses.
Families played Holi in their front lawns or gardens, splashing
buckets of water on each other to whoops of joy, and screams from
the unsuspecting victims as the cold water caught them unawares.
"I joined the celebrations in my colony. It was fun, we smeared
gulal on each other," said Akshay, a 14-year-old in a south Delhi
The festivities began Saturday night. Bonfires were lit as 'Holika
Dahan' or 'Chhoti Holi' (little Holi) is marked a day before the
festival. It invokes the legend of Prahlad, whose devotion to Lord
Vishnu angered his father the demon king Hiranyakashipu. In the end,
Prahlad survives while the king perishes.
Holi also showcases Indian traditions of communal harmony as
Muslims, Christians and Sikhs play it in large numbers with their
In Lucknow, hundreds of Hindus and Muslims celebrated together by
taking out the decades-old procession 'Holi Baraat' -- to send out a
message of peace and brotherhood. Accompanied by decorated horse
chariots, the revellers danced to the beats of drums amidst ecstatic
shouts of 'Holi Hai!'.
"Holi Baraat is one of the oldest processions in the city. It's just
not a procession but a festive mix of communities to spread the
message of brotherhood," Lucknow Mayor Dinesh Sharma told reporters.
Vivek Tangri, a Lucknow resident said: "For 42 years we have
celebrated Holi in this manner. You can say it has become a
tradition. Muslims shower petals on us. In response, we garland
In Mumbai, it was a colourful but subdued Holi due to ongoing school
and college exams.
The exams dampened the Holi plans of many youngsters. To avoid
disturbing the students, many housing complexes and societies
refrained from playing loud music.
Film stars, celebrities, business personalities, politicians and
others enjoyed the festival with gatherings at their homes in and
However on the political front, the fanfare was missing in Delhi.
Politicians from Bihar like Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu
Prasad and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also did not celebrate.
Authorities in the capital said no untoward incident was reported
from anywhere in the capital till Sunday evening as police had urged
people to celebrate the festival with "sensitivity towards others".
"Nothing happened so far. It is absolutely peaceful," a Delhi Police
spokesperson told IANS, adding that barricades had been set up at
many places to check trouble.
Traffic policemen were deployed in large numbers on Delhi's roads to
keep an eye on drunken driving.