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
In Mumbai, youngsters indulged in a no-holds barred Holi, throwing
buckets-full of water at each other, and also squirting guns and
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
The temples were a riot of colours as devotees drenched each other
"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