Holi celebrated with fervour in Braj

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Mathura/Vrindavan, March 6: Holi was celebrated with lots of colour and fun in the Shri Krishna temples of Braj mandal.

More than a lakh pilgrims visited Bankey Bihari temple in Vrindavan and Dwarkadheesh temple in Mathura.

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Holi was played with fervour in Gokul and Goverdhan.

Despite the early morning chill and the swine flu scare, locals joined the pilgrims in throwing colours and gulal. Song and dance programmes were organised in a number of places.

In Mathura, 'bhang' and 'thandai' were in great demand.

Mathura Police had made elaborate security arrangements and put up barriers at main crossings to regulate the traffic flow from Delhi and Agra.

Early on Friday, the much awaited walk-through fire was held at Falen village.

A panda, Sunil, went through the smouldering bonfire as shouts of joy and excitement, and chanting of mantras reached a crescendo late on Thursday night in Jatwari village.

In Falen village, another panda Heera Lal after the ritualistic bath and puja walked through fire early on Friday, as people waited with bated breath.

Before entering the fire, Heera Lal was on a "maun vrat" and performed a series of rituals to prepare himself for the ordeal watched by thousands of pilgrims who had assembled in Falen on Thursday itself.

On the full moon night Holi bonfires are lit all over Braj mandal and the celebrations begin early the next day.

For hundreds of years, pandas in Jatwari and Falen have been going through the fire ordeal enacting the mythological story of Prahlad who escaped unhurt while sitting in his aunt's (Holika) lap in a fire.

Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists assemble at the two villages to witness pandas walking on smouldering fire, according to Pavan Gautam, a social activist in the area.

IANS

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