Holi revellers paint the town in all hues

KATHMANDU: Hindus in the Kathmandu Valley and other hilly regions today celebrated Holi, the festival of colours, with great fervour and gusto.

They smeared vermilion and other colours and splashed coloured water at each other.

Some climbed on to the rooftops and emptied buckets of water at passers-by, while others threw traditional lolas — water-filled plastic jets. Doctors have warned against use of toxic colours.

Holi is celebrated on the eighth day of the new moon and ends with the burning of the chir — an umbrella-like object with pieces of colourful clothes on it— in Tundikhel, on the full moon day. Holi revellers also exchange greetings to celebrate the arrival of the spring and marking the end of wintry chill.

The festival is celebrated in the Tarai region tomorrow. The government has declared a public holiday for the festival and beefed up security.

Although the festival was largely peaceful, the day did not pass off without incident for many young women, who were hit with water jets and lollas, often filled with tainted water.

Legend has it that demon king Hiranya Kashyapu ordered his sister Holika to go through a fire with his son Pralhad in her lap. By doing so, Pralhad, who happens to be a devout follower of Lord Bishnu, would stop chanting the name of the Lord. The demon king belied that Holika wouldn’t burn in the fire because of a blessing she had received from the god but his son Pralhad would die.

But it so happened that the fire burned Holika whereas Pralhad remained unharmed and came out of the fire still chanting the name of lord Vishnu.

From then on, the festival has been celebrated by smearing colours as a mark of victory of righteousness against evil. The legend also says that Lord Bishnu had warned Holika against the misuse of divine power she was blessed with, but she wouldn’t heed to the warning under the command of the all-powerful demon king.

Elders believe that premonitions could be avoided if ‘tika’ made out of the ashes of the ‘chir’ is put on one’s forehead or kept in the house.

Meanwhile, President Dr Ram Baran Yadav wished that the Fagu Poornima (Holi) would further consolidate national integrity, social harmony and unity among all the people belonging to various castes, religion, language and culture. In a message issued on the occasion of the festival, President Dr Yadav had extended heartfelt wishes to all Nepalis for their good health, peace and prosperity. Common cultural festivals like these have a special significance in uniting our society and helping all Nepalis brothers and sisters to live in peace and brotherhood, he added. Likewise, Vice-President Parmananda Jha has said the festival has a significant role to play in fostering goodwill and tolerance among all Nepalis.