New Delhi: It's a rainbow of colours across the country as India gets draped in the multi-coloured hues of Holi, a jubilant nation is getting a new high as throngs of crowds are getting into festive gears, singing "Holi hai bhai Holi hai, bura na mano Holi hai."
The festival of colours also marked the end of winter and arrival of spring with a carnival of colours -- reds, blues, greens, oranges and all imaginable hues.
Holi was celebrated in various parts of the country on Saturday even as preparations were on to awash the atmosphere with colours in many states where the festival will be marked on Sunday.
Security forces joined the youths and others in pouring colour and greeting each other on the occasion in Jammu and Kashmir. The festivities passed without any untoward incident. In one of those rare days no militancy-related incident was reported from anywhere in the state.
The festival was also celebrated in West Bengal with traditional fervour and enthusiasm.
The northeastern state of Meghalaya also celebrated the festival with pomp and gaiety. People from all walks of life joined the celebrations smearing each others face with 'gulal', and greeting friends.
Holi was also celebrated with gaiety in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.
The festival mood was also seen at Congress, BJP and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) offices where the party leaders and activists celebrated it with colours and distributed sweets greeting each other.
Tight security arrangements have been put in place in Madhya Pradesh on the eve of the festival of colours and more than 2,000 police personnel are stationed in the state capital alone.
Besides, Holika Dahan (ritual lighting of bonfires) at more than 700 locations, poetry conventions and other programmes are scheduled on Sunday. People flocked to markets for buying colour and sweets.
President, PM greet people on Holi
President APJ Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have greeted the people on the occasion of Holi, saying the festival of colours highlights multi-religious harmony and goes a long way in strengthening bonds among the people.
Kalam said, ''this festival of colours highlights the multi-religious harmony that has existed in our country for centuries and spirit of tolerance that has been the essence of our culture and civilisation.''
Extending his greetings to ''all my people in India and abroad'', Kalam said, ''May this year's festival strengthen fraternal bonds amongst our people and bring peace and prosperity to our nation.''
Dr Singh, in his message, said the festival of colours not only spreads cheers in people's lives but also goes a long way in strengthening bonds among them.
The Prime Minister expressed the hope that ''the change of season usher in new hope for a brighter future and a new resolve to forge ahead as a Nation.
Lalu joins Holi celebrations
Getting into the mood of Holi, a day ahead of the festival, Railway Minister Lalu Prasad doled out colour to the scribes and ''Sushasan ka Gutkha'' to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
Lalu Prasad, along with his wife Rabri Devi joined a select group of invitees at his residence here in the Holi fanfare.
Releasing ''Sushasan ka Gutkha'', a satirical discourse on Nitish Kumar government, the Railway Minister said the Chief Minister had assumed power on contract as was evident with the way teachers and engineers were being recruited on contract in Bihar.
He said celebrations were only symbolic as the real action will take place tomorrow.
''The NDA government has been engaged in making announcements while the ground realities continue to remain unchanged,'' he added.
Traders to skip Holi celebrations
Condoling the Samjhauta Express blasts, the traders association of Sarojini Nagar market has decided to skip Holi celebrations this year.
"There would be no celebration by the Sarojini Nagar market association members this year in Holi. The association members will visit the victims of the blasts in Safdarjung hospital that day," said Ashok Randhawa, president of the association quoted as saying.
The traders would also be arranging lunch for the victims and their family members on the Holi day.
Celebrate Holi with safe colours
If you are a 'Holi' enthusiast and indulge in unrestrained revelry, chances are that you will end up with skin rashes or allergies or even eye infection.
Smearing colours on family and friends might turn out to be a never-ending nightmare unless you are absolutely sure of the contents of the colours.
The bright and beautiful colours could be acids, alkalis, mica or silica or some more dangerous chemical which will lead to skin diseases or even worse cause loss of sight.
With a carnival of colours -- reds, blues, greens, oranges and all imaginable hues -- might turn out to be a tormenting experience for young and old alike.
''The most commonly used colours like blue can cause dermatitis, a condition that often results in swollen, reddened and itchy skin high level of discomfort caused is extremely nerve wrecking,'' says Dr Anil Kumar Malik, a senior Dermatologist.
And if you think using dry colours will be safe and you are being cautious, then you are mistaken.
'Gulal' that contains two components, a coloring agent and a base, has mostly heavy metals like lead, chromium, nickel and cadmium.
'In case of eye irritation, splashing of water should be resorted to immediately if the eye comes in contact with harmful agents of colour.
With agency inputs