Karachi: Holi, the festival of colours, was celebrated by the Hindu community by spreading cheer amid lots of enthusiasm, especially when throwing colour and drenching one another at the big ground behind Shri Swaminarayan Mandir on Sunday evening.
The big gate to the ground was locked with only the side gates open as the entry and exit points. The entry point had a metal detector walkthrough installed for the first time. “It is for everyone’s security, so please don’t mind,” said Nanak Ram Chabria, volunteering to help scan the people entering from there. “We are grateful to the government for the support and installing this here today,” he added.
Engineer Hot Chand Kirmani, president of the Pakistan Hindu Council, also present on the occasion said that even if there was no such walkthrough, the people would not have missed Holi at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. “Just look how happy everyone is,” he said gesturing to the people dancing to catchy beats as they chased one another. “People following any religion are welcome here. It is great to see so many Muslims playing Holi with us,” he added.
Everyone entering the ground had some type of colour with him or her, be it little packets of powder colour and water guns and pumps of the same colour mixed in water. For refills they carried more concoctions in little tanks tied to their backs with a hose attached or in cold drink bottles, which they’d shake to mix the colour from time to time. Yes, that bottle of cola was definitely not for drinking. Neither did those backpacks worn by the children have books inside.
Right in the middle of the ground was where stood the Holi Mata. Newly-married couples performed aarti and pooja at its feet as did the parents blessed with a child during the past year did with their baby. Later, the Holi Mata was set ablaze amid chants of ‘On Jai Jagdish Hare’.
The real Holi didn’t begin until the Holi Mata was completely consumed by the flames. That’s when even the older people joined in the festivities, taking their revenge from the younger lot who just couldn’t be controlled. And they emerged the winners this time as the children had used up most of their energies and colour reserves by then.
“Happy Holi!” they said to everyone who tried getting away before they’d smile and give in to be turned into a complete walking and talking painting. The colour sellers within the temple compound said that they sold water colours which were easily washable though they also had lasting colour.
“Some people insist on buying pucca colour so we also have that,” said Anil Kumar, a stall vendor, pointing to the packets of durable colour. “Don’t worry, even the pucca colour comes off by rubbing mustard seed oil on the skin. I should know, I sell colour,” he said while urging a boy to buy his water gun with the Rs500 wearable tank.