Kolkata, March 21 (IANS) West Bengal joined the rest of the nation in celebrating the festival of Holi – or Dol Jatra as it is called in this part of the country – with colours, song and prayers, amid stepped-up security on Thursday.
Thousands of people from various parts of India and abroad congregated at Santiniketan – in Bolpur of Birbhum district, about 180 km from Kolkata – where Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore had reintroduced Dol Jatra as Basantotsav or spring festival in the Visva Bharati university he founded.
The Santiniketan campus oozed mirth and gaiety as people jived on the streets to the tune of Tagore songs that exhorted everyone to mingle in joy.
Early in the morning, the darkness of the night was dispelled with girls and boys of Visva-Bharati, accompanied by their teachers, going around the campus singing “Ore Grihabasi, khol dwar khol, laglo je dol (Oh dwellers! Open your doors, it is Dol)”.
The girls, resplendent in saffron sarees and garlands of fragrant flowers, and boys in traditional kurta-punjabi, then took part in a song and dance routine at the Ashram Math (main university ground). The function ended with everyone smearing the other with ‘abir’.
The curtains came down on the festivities in the evening, with the rendering of Tagore’s dance drama “Shyama” by the university students.
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) celebrated the day as the 533rd birth anniversary of Vaishnav saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu at its global headquarters in Nadia district’s Mayapur, about 130 km from here.
A joyful spectacle of global harmony was visible as devotees belonging to 300 ethnicities from over 95 countries, converged to celebrate the occasion through devotional songs and cultural programmes and discourses about the life and teachings of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
The excitement of the devotees was palpable as they gleefully breaking the shackles of colour, creed, region, caste, and country rubbed shoulder to shoulder ib bliss.
The festival was a blend of north Indian and Bengali traditions in the eastern metropolis. While those from north India celebrated it in their traditional style, rubbing and sprinkling colours on each other, the Bengalis exchanged sweets and pleasantries.
As the morning progressed, the youngsters moved around their neighbourhoods in groups, throwing water missiles and smearing coloured powder on one another.
In parts of the state, the festival is marked by placing the idols of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin, which is carried by the devotees around the town. People dance around and sing hymns in joy, and spray coloured water and smear gulal on each other.