Taking a break from politics in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, political leaders cutting across party lines joined the nation on Monday to celebrate Holi, festival of colours.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh greeted people on the occasion, saying Holi provided an opportunity to strengthen the bonds of unity and friendship.

Dr. Singh said in a message that the festival heralding the onset of spring celebrates different hues of the country’s cultural mosaic and is an occasion to rejoice in the glory of nature in all its vibrant colours. Dr. Singh celebrated the festival with his staff for the first time on Sunday during his tenure in UPA-II.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi celebrated Holi at her residence where she greeted party cadres with colours and sweets. Senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, party president Rajnath Singh and spokesperson Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi celebrated the festival with party workers and their family members. “I greet everybody on the auspicious festival of Holi,” Mr. Singh said.

Scores of BJP activists and well-wishers thronged the residence of Mr. Advani to greet him, though the media was not allowed inside this year. The BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi asked the countrymen to celebrate “the festival of democracy to change the fate of India.”

The Hindu month of ‘Phagun’ ended on Sunday with ‘Holika Dahan’ and ‘Chaita’ started on Monday. Leaders of other political parties also joined the Holi celebrations here. Colours ruled the streets of the Capital on Monday as people of all ages with faces and clothes smeared in colours celebrated Holi, which marks the onset of spring. Water-filled balloons were hurtled down from rooftops and balconies as cries of “Holi hai” reverberated the streets. A relatively warm day paved the way for a perfect Holi, as coloured water drenched people inside and outside homes, bidding adieu to winter.

In Patna, political bigwigs, including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and RJD president Lalu Prasad, kept away from the celebrations. Their official residences at 1, Anne Marg and 10, Circular Road, wore a deserted look.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik did not take part in the Holi celebrations. “Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik did not celebrate Holi due to the cyclone Phailin which claimed 21 lives in October 2013. The gate of Naveen Niwas was closed for the public for the day,” an official at the Chief Minister’s Office said.

Holi revellers danced and smeared colour at each other in Bhubaneswar while ‘matka phodo’ was held at different places with hundreds competing to break the ‘matka’ (pot).

Jaipur erupted in a rainbow of colours as enthusiastic revellers thronged the streets. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje joined the festivities with her family members in Delhi.

In Attari, BSF troops, including newly recruited women troops, celebrated Holi with great enthusiasm at the India-Pakistan border here on Monday. BSF forces led by DIG M.F. Farooqui celebrated the festival of colours by greeting and welcoming visitors from Pakistan on the occasion.

A large group of BSF women soldiers hurled colours at each other as jawans danced to the beat of drums and Punjabi folk songs. BSF officials greeted their Pakistani counterparts and smeared colours on them and the Paksitani forces reciprocated the greetings warmly.

As Bollywood celebrated Holi, actors wished friends, family and fans on the occasion. Many of them took to Twitter and social networking to reach out to their loved ones.

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