Bikaner celebrates Holi with "Phalgunya Football" and fancy dress show

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Bikaner, March 21 : It was certainly a field day for WWE wrestler The Great Khali, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Bollywood's Aishwarya Rai who were vying with angels, gods and goddesses and Tennis queen Sania Mirza in disguise here in a soccer match played for fun ahead of the Holi festival.

Over 40 individuals, who first participated in a fancy dress show as part of Holi celebrations, played soccer for fun called "Phalgunya Football" at the Pushkarna stadium on Wednesday. It is today a five decades old tradition here.

Though some of the players looked well-versed with football, it was left to the novices to give the thrills of falls, rolls, misses, handballs, overshot balls etc., as the game was played by the fancy characters.

"I'm disguised as Vasundhara Raje (Rajasthan's chief minister). Just the way she rules despite all opponents, I also scored a goal beating all participants here to make my team victorious", said Ram Rattan, another participating player after the football match.

As the game kicked off, the participants played the game with vigour and fervour while showcasing perfect sportsmanship.

"As you can see I've come here disguised as Zalim Singh to stop the injustice during this festivity (Holi) and I'm here to exhibit my sports talent in this 'Phalgunia Football'. Bikaner Holi is very famous where people from all over the country and abroad come to see the festival," said Suchil Joshi, another participant of the Fancy Dress and Phalguniya Soccer match.

For sports lovers, the football match played by these fancy dress artistes added to their joy of welcoming Holi festival. Everyone enjoyed the fancy dress show and the football match.

People from different parts of the country and abroad had gathered to watch a different form of Holi celebrations.

"We, the people of Bikaner, got to see the game in celebration of Holi. We are all excited about it and would see such matches in future also. We were greatly entertained by the match and we'll always come forward to make such an event a success in future," said Tuhin Joshi, one spectator.

Besides soccer, the participants performed several Rajasthani dances to the tunes of lilting folk songs of the State.

In Bikaner, this fancy dress Holi and football have been a part of Holi festivities for five decades. The idea has received appreciation and support from locals.

Apart from that Bikaner also has other modes of Holi, one of the most lively celebrations being the Dolchi Holi of Vyas and Harsh communities of Hindus, who assemble at a place a few days ahead Holi festival to commemorate it as a reconciliation day between the two. By Jethmal Sharma

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