The Gandhi Youth Organisa-tion says Phagwah is an occasion of thanksgiving, planning and reflection as it marks the beginning of the Spring season and ushers in the Hindu new year.
In a press release the organisation said Phagwah is the most colourful and popular festival on the Hindu calendar. Devotees celebrate the triumph of good over evil with a two-day event where, on the first night, a special pooja is done and grains or hola are offered to Vishnu Bhagwan before a bonfire. This is accompanied by children making merry and adults performing special chowtal singing to the sounds of drumming and cymbals.
The bonfire recalls the death of Holika, the sister of King Hiranyakashyapu, who tried to destroy his son Prahalad by fire after the child, a devotee of Vishnu Bhagwan, challenged his father’s claim of power over all the gods and his terrorising of the people.
Holika was said to be immune to the effects of fire and as such she placed Prahalad on her lap and sat on a pyre with the intention of burning him up only to herself be consumed by the blaze.
When the blaze died away Holika had been destroyed and Prahalad was found playing with her ashes.
On the second day of the festival devotees amuse themselves by splashing coloured water and throwing powder on relatives and friends as well as passers-by. This celebration is taken into the streets and bazaars. It is characterized by songs, music, floral decorations, the throwing of different colours of abeer, abrack and powder and the splashing of perfumed water on persons, the release said. Sweat meats and drinks are served liberally as devotees visit each other’s homes.
Chowtal singing is expected to continue until the first Tuesday after Phagwah day when the celebration comes to a close.