President, Prime Minister convey greetings to people; Shinde celebrates with BSF jawans

The festival of colours heralding summer was celebrated across the country on Wednesday even as 27 Holi revellers drowned while one person died in a clash.

People celebrated the festival, applying ‘gulal’ on each other, gorging on sweets and singing and dancing to songs and drum beats. There were gusto and bonhomie as merrymakers, with clothes drenched in myriad hues, thronged lanes and narrow alleys, giving a go-by to squabbles and distributed sweets.

People embraced each other wishing ‘Happy Holi’ as unseen hands squirted them with a well-timed coloured water spray. Water-filled balloons were lobbed from rooftops and balconies as cries of ‘Holi hai’ reverberated the streets.

However, tragedy struck when seven youths in Kanpur drowned in two incidents while taking bath in the Ganga after playing Holi. Eleven teenagers drowned in Andhra Pradesh’s Karimnagar and Nizamabad districts and at Kukatpally in Hyderabad when they went for bath after Holi celebrations.

Six revellers also drowned in two incidents in Ahmedabad and Navsari districts of Gujarat.

In Bengal, three persons drowned in Howrah district while washing themselves in the pond after taking part in the revelry. In another incident in the State one person was killed and five others were injured when two groups clashed while playing Holi in Nadia district.

Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde celebrated Holi with BSF jawans at an outpost near the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer district.

The festival was celebrated by the Hindu community and security forces with traditional fervour and gaiety in Kashmir.

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed the hope that the festival would strengthen faith in national values and promote oneness and harmony.

“On the joyous occasion of Holi, I convey my greetings and good wishes to all my fellow countrymen. This festival which marks the advent of spring, is a harbinger of joy, hope and fulfilment for all,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

The Prime Minister said “the festival of colours is the celebration of life and goodness and gives opportunity to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood.”

In Punjab’s Amritsar district, BSF jawans celebrated Holi on the Attari international border.

The Durgiana temple in Amritsar was tastefully decorated and people thronged it, so was the holy city of Anandpur Sahib.

In the national capital, police personnel were deployed across the city. BJP veteran L K Advani met visitors and party leaders at his residence here on the occasion.