Commoners and politicians mingled with each other and revellers dyed in many hues thronged the streets dancing to the beat of drums as gusto and bonhomie marked the Holi festival, which passed off peacefully across the country on Monday.
Forgetting all rancour and old grievances, friends and foes exchanged embraces and wished each other “Happy Holi” as unseen hands squirted them with well-timed sprays of coloured water. Water-filled balloons hurtled down from rooftops and balconies as cries of “Holi hai” reverberated through the streets.
Musical soirees were held at many places to mark the festival, which bids adieu to winter and heralds the spring season. Colourful rangoli patterns were drawn at the entrances of houses as the scent of sweet delicacies wafted through the air.
The festival passed off peacefully with no reports of any law and order problem from across the country.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi joined a group of schoolchildren in the capital to celebrate the festival, applying colours on their foreheads and distributing sweets.
In Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister K. Rosaiah’s residence wore a festive look as he played Holi with tribal people.
The holy city of Mathura was soaked in colours as thousands of pilgrims arrived to celebrate Holi. Foreigners enthusiastically participated in the festivities in some towns, which began last evening with the lighting of the bonfire known as “Holika Dahan.”
Effigies of Holika, the sister of Hiranyakashyap, the demon king, were set ablaze at several places symbolising the destruction of evil.
President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Hamid Ansari and a host of political leaders greeted the people on the occasion, saying the festival aimed at strengthening the social fabric of the country.
Tragedy struck Virar area in Maharashtra’s Thane district when three persons, enjoying the bonfire, were electrocuted.
Police said they died when they came in contact with a live wire dangling from an electric pole.