Mumbai, March 6: Mumbai and Maharashtra erupted in a riot of colours with thousands of revellers trooping out to celebrate Holi, the festival of colours, cocking a snook at the ongoing swine flu (H1N1) epidemic in many cities on Friday.
The celebrations started at daybreak with loud music blaring in various housing complexes, public places and special venues as people went about applying colour to each other, hugging and wishing each other 'Happy Holi'.
This year, swine flu has claimed nearly 180 lives in the state, and affected nearly 2,150 patients, as the state went on a high alert following the unseasonal rains and chilly weather since last week.
At the Holika on Thursday night, people offered special prayers and burnt effigies of H1N1 in the Holi fire.
Special invitee Holi festivities were organised in some places where top Bollywood and Marathi film stars, models, glamour world personalities and movers and shakers of society let their hair down and immersed themselves in multi-colours.
Several five-star hotels in the city also lured patrons with their celebrations and also offered special Holi snacks and buffets, which attracted the wealthy crowd.
In contrast, boisterous Holi with loud music was seen in downmarket localities and slums with the residents enthusiastically joining the celebrations and partaking of all-time favourites like 'vada paav', vegetable 'pakodas' and 'chaat' snacks as accompaniment.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) vice-president Vageesh Saraswat organised a unique Holi by inviting a group of terminally ill juvenile cancer patients from the Tata Memorial Cancer Hospital who interacted with several film and television stars at the venue in Powai.
Mumbai Police have ensured tight security all over the city, including near the railway lines, for a safe and event-free Holi.
Large groups of revellers also took to the sea beaches dotting Mumbai like Chowpatty, Juhu, Shivaji Park, Versova, Gorai, Uttan, Arnala and other places for sea-side celebrations in the open.
Reports of enthusiastic Holi celebrations came from places like Thane, Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Nashik and other cities, towns and villages where revellers braved the winter chill to celebrate both dry and wet colours of the festival.