Holi festivities begin in Himachal

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Sujanpur (Himachal Pradesh), March 21 (IANS) The four-day Holi celebrations in this town, which traces its origin to erstwhile Katoch dynasty ruler Sansar Chand, began on Monday, as Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh inaugurated the festival.

The celebrations, which include folk festivals, will conclude on Thursday, the day the festival of colours will be celebrated in other northern states.

After offering prayers at the Murli Manohar Temple, the chief minister led a colourful procession from the temple to the historic Chaugan here in which thousands of people, dressed in traditional attires, participated.

Virbhadra Singh said fairs and festivals were an inseparable part of the lives of the people and the state government was bound to preserve the traditional culture and customs.

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Organisers said the Holi festival has been celebrated since Sansar Chand (1765-1823) turned it into a popular folk festival on the lines of the Holi of ‘Brij’ in Uttar Pradesh.

Besides its historic and religious significance, the festival is linked to the well being and prosperity of the residents. It also promotes tourism and trade.

It is believed that on this day, the Katoch ruler would put aside his royalty and mingle with the masses.

A tank in the royal palace was filled with coloured water and Sansar Chand would kick off the celebrations by splashing it on his queens and relatives.

Legend has it that Sansar Chand would take the form of Lord Krishna and his wife Rani Suketki would transform into Radha when they played Holi.

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The entire royal family would set out of the palace on elephants and pass through the streets of the town. The people standing along the way would throw colours on them.

The Radha-Krishna temple here is believed to have been built by Sansar Chand in 1790 on the advice of his mother.

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