Friday, March 17, 2006


1. Holi Festival Celebrated Across India and the Diaspora

NEW DELHI, INDIA, March 15, 2006: It's a rainbow of colors across the country as India gets draped in the multi-coloured hues of Holi even though an unseasonal weather threatens to play spoilsport in North India. The festival of colors also marked the end of winter and arrival of spring. From Holi heartland Vrindavan and Varanasi to tinsel town Mumbai to Anandpur Sahib and up to the frontiers, a jubilant nation is getting a new high as throngs of crowds are getting into festive gears, singing "Holi hai bhai Holi hai, bura na mano Holi hai."

Varanasi celebrated Holi on a muted tone. The city showed much resilience and spirit to bounce back from last week's terror attacks and get draped in myriads colors. The festivities began on a sombre note in the morning but picked up as the day progressed. People danced and sang their way to the ghats early morning on Wednesday to offer prayers and play Holi.

At Vrindavan, it has been a full blast. A huge procession of people -- all drenched in colors -- converted the whole city into a sea of colors as Brijwasis sang and danced through the streets and thoroughfares and at temples and ghats, celebrating a festival that is said to have born in these very lands many centuries back. In the nation's frontiers, the sentinels of the border are celebrating in high spirit far away from their families. There is nothing that can dampen the Holi spirit among the jawans. While the very tradition of Holi usually revolves around Lord Krishna, in Karnataka, it's Lord Siva who burns away the evil. In Bihar, singing, dancing and splashes of colors marked Holi. Bihari Holi is more famous for latkas and jhatkas. And add to that Bhojpuri Holi songs, it becomes an automatic blast.

In Gujarat, over one million devotees from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh visited the famous Ranchhodji Temple at Dakor town, about 45 km from Vadodra, and offered prayers on the occasion of Holi. About 1,500 policemen were deployed at 28 points in the town for regulating the flow of devotees in the wake of terrorists attack at Varanasi. Most parts of eastern India, including West Bengali marked Holi on Tuesday and Santiniketan came alive with Basantotsav (Spring festival) made famous by Nobel Laureate abindranath Tagore. Ashramites in Tagore's abode of peace revved up Holi spirits with the customary dawn rendition of "Khol dwar khol, laglo je dol" ("Open the door, spring's here") as students, and teachers of Visva-Bharati took out the procession on the main thoroughfare of the university. At Delhi's Tihar Jail, mirthful songs rang through the air and there were color splashes all around as the prisoners celebrated Holi. Around 2,000 inmates of the prison, the largest jail complex in Asia, took part in celebrating the festival of colors, with the Director General R. P. Singh also joining in the celebrations. "They congregated and celebrated Holi and there was song and dance. This is for the first time that such a grand celebration was organized in the jail," said Sunil Kumar, the Law Officer of the jail. The inmates sang songs in Hindi and Bhojpuri and danced to the tune of the traditional Holi songs.


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