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A Pakistani Hindu covered with coloured powder is sprayed with coloured water during celebrations for the Holi festival in Lahore, March 16, 2014.  — Photo by AFP

“As young boys broke an earthen pot, commonly called Matki, hanging in the middle of Krishna Mandir’s courtyard with butter inside it, the priest (Pandit) shouted, ‘Holi Hay’. Soon after, people at the temple started throwing colours at each other, marking Holi, the festival of colours,” reported Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn.

The Hindus of Rawalpindi and Islamabad marked the festival on Thursday at Krishna Mandir in Saddar, which had been illuminated. Hindus celebrate the festival at the start of spring season to remember the victory of a devotee of Hindu god Vishnu against the Raja of Multan who led evil forces, said the Dawn.

Young Pakistani street vendors sell coloured powder or “gulal” on the eve of the Hindu festival of Holi in Karachi, March 15, 2014. — Photo by AFP

Pictures by Muzzammil Afzal Dawn

Last year the National Student’s Federation (NSF) had organized the formation of a human shield at the Holi celebrations at Swami Narayan Temple in Karachi to show solidarity with and protect Hindus in attendance. “We gathered outside Shah-i-Najaf Imambargah to form a human chain to send a message of unity and solidarity,” said Mr. Jibran Nasir.

Pundit Channa Lal gets his forehead marked with red color as a ritual before starting the special prayer to celebrate the festival of Holi at Balmiki Temple in Rawalpindi.  — Photo by Sara Farid

This year Sindh government declared March 24 as a public holiday to mark the occasion of Holi. Days after the National Assembly of Pakistan adopted a resolution to take steps to declare Holi, Diwali and Easter as holidays for minorities a resolution was passed.

“The government of Sindh has been pleased to declare March 24, 2016 (Thursday) as public holiday throughout the province of Sindh, on the occasion of Holi for all offices, autonomous, semi-autonomous bodies, corporations and local councils under the administrative control of government of Sindh except essential services,” a notification issued by office of the Sindh chief secretary read.

A spokesman for the Chief Minister House told that in the past, only the Hindu community was given a holiday on Holi. “This is the first time Holi has been declared a public holiday anywhere in Pakistan.”

Picture from The Dawn

Holi, a popular Hindu spring festival is celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox, on the full moon day. The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March, sometimes February in the Gregorian Calendar. Revelers spray colored powder and water on each other, dance, and distribute sweets during Holi celebrations.

Asha Stanford Holi

In the San Francisco Bay Area Holi is celebrated in parks, universities, and temples.

Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA) Holi celebrations 2014

Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA) Holi celebrations will be held in Cardoza Park Milpitas, California on Saturday, March 26, 2016 (11:00 AM – 3:00 PM). Asha Stanford Holi 2016 will be held this year at Stanford University on Saturday, April 2nd (11am-3pm) and Sunday, April 3rd (11am-3pm). Holi celebrations at the Sunnyvale Hindu temple are on 26th March, Saturday.

Asha Stanford Holi 2014

“For memory has painted this perfect day

With colors that never fade,

And we find at the end of a perfect day

The soul of a friend we’ve made.”

– Carrie Jacobs Bond

Ritu Marwah is Social Media Editor at India Currents. She is an award winning author, chef, debate coach, and mother of two boys.