New Delhi, March 17: The Holi festival was celebrated Monday with traditional gaiety and fervour across the country with people greeting each other by applying ‘gulaal’ and sharing sweets. The chief ministers of Bihar, Maharashtra and Odisha stayed away from the celebrations, expressing grief over death of people in their states.
Many other politicians, however, spent the day with their supporters in view of the Lok Sabha elections.
In Delhi, people celebrated Holi with usual enthusiasm. The celebrations picked up during the day as the weather grew pleasant and warmer.
Young revellers sprayed water from ‘pichkaris’ (water guns) and flung water balloons at one another – and even at strangers, in the spirit of the festival.
People in some localities gathered at a common compound and applied gulaal (coloured powder) on one another. At some places, celebrations were accompanied by beating of drums and playing of folk and dance numbers.
People also visited Krishna temples across the city.
“I don’t play Holi much but I go to temples and prepare special food for the family,” said 32-year-old Nishtha Gupta of east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar area.
Families gave away sweets to neighbours. The most sought after delicacy was ‘gujiya’.
In Vrindavan and Mathura, the festivities were marked by devotional prayers in temples dotting the region.
People threw gulaal as they greeted one another with the customary Holi hug.
In parts of western Uttar Pradesh, some candidates placed advertisements in the local media to mark Holi.
In the business hub Mumbai and in other parts of Maharashtra, men, women and children gathered in open grounds, clubs, resorts and beaches to celebrate the festival.
There was enthusiasm in Mumbai’s slums too, and private parties were held at several film studios and bungalows of Bollywood personalities and industrialists.
However, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan decided against celebrating his birthday and Holi in sympathy with the 28 farmers who died in the recent rain and hailstorms in the state.
Republican Party of India president Ramdas Athawale also refrained from Holi celebrations for the same reason.
Many parties halted their Lok Sabha campaign for the day though individual candidates moved around in their localities greeting people.
In Odisha, people celebrated Holi with religious fervour and gaiety, but Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik refrained from celebrations in view of the Cyclone Phailin and floods last year that killed about 60 people.
In Punjab, lakhs of devotees converged at the Gurdwara Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib to be part of the Hola Mohalla celebrations which coincide with Holi.
The gurdwara at Anandpur Sahib, about 85 km from Chandigarh, is the second most important shrine for the Sikhs after Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
It was here in 1699 that the 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, baptised five men and founded the Khalsa Panth.
Holi was marked by bonhomie and gaiety in Kolkata amid a focus on use of eco-friendly colours. Hundreds of people gathered in pockets of the city and poetry festivals (hasya kavi sammelan) were organised in various areas.
People in Bihar celebrated Holi with fervour but Chief Minister Nitish Kumar also stayed away to express grief over the death of 23 children in July last year after consuming mid-day meal in a school in Saran district.
Lalu Prasad also did not play his trademark “kapda phaar” (cloth tearing) Holi, his aides said, adding that the Rashtriya Janata Dal leader was tired following hectic campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls.