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A Holi baraat of communal harmony

NO ?BAARAT? can be as colourful as the Chowk?s. Literally.One colour that is fast amongst all the colours in this baarat is of communal harmony. It?s lasted 40 years already, and continues. However, this colour is so overwhelmed by the Holi colours that it becomes difficult to distinguish a Muslim from a Hindu?all smeared and soaked in Holi colours. It?s called ?Holi Ki Baarat? that is taken out by Hindus in Chowk area every year on Holi.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 01:07 IST

NO ‘BAARAT’ can be as colourful as the Chowk’s. Literally.

One colour that is fast amongst all the colours in this baarat is of communal harmony. It’s lasted 40 years already, and continues. However, this colour is so overwhelmed by the Holi colours that it becomes difficult to distinguish a Muslim from a Hindu—all smeared and soaked in Holi colours.

It’s called ‘Holi Ki Baarat’ that is taken out by Hindus in Chowk area every year on Holi. And Muslims welcome the Baaratis—with flowers, garlands, sweets, paan, laung, elaayachi and above all with gusto.

While police and administration are taking out peace march in different sensitive spots in the city after the recent communal clash and blast in Varanasi, the Muslims are gearing up to receive this colourful march by Hindus.

Muslims at the point of Victoria Street that used to be called Nakkhas Subzi Mandi welcome the baarat. It’s still called Nakkhas Subzi Mandi. However, instead of the mandi the place now has a multi-storey shopping complex.
So Hindus are baaratis, Muslims do ‘Mehmaan nawaazi’.

The baarat starts from Chowk Gol Darwaza replete with elephants, horses, drum-beaters and gulal being thrown all around the procession passes. It generally has about 1,500 revellers. And it winds its way through Akbari Gate, Banswali Sarai, enters Chowk and culminates into spot celebration.

Mehmaan nawaazi is organised by about 100 Muslims while more of them join in from the area. A night before the Holi, these Muslims make a stockpile of flower petals, garlands, sweets, paan, laung, elaayachi et al at the welcome point. And the next morning they come in new clothes at the point that reverberates with best of recorded Holi songs and music.

“It’s my father who was a ‘Thekedaar’ at the Mandi, began this tradition about 40 years ago,” says Mohammed Usman, who along with Prof NH Rizvi, Md Naseem Khan, Rashid Ahmed, Raees Ahmed, Ghaus Mohammed and several others including a couple of Hindu friends too.

“We cover the road with flower petals when the baarat approaches. And when the baarat reaches the spot we shower petals on the revellers. They throw gulal and colours on us. We garland them. Then we mix up. We hug each other and play Holi. We give them sweets and thirst quenchers. And before they move ahead, we give them paan, laung, elaaychi.”

In 40 years not even once the tradition of welcoming the baarat was lapsed by Muslims in this area, said Prof Rizvi.

The Baarat starts at around 10 am and culminates at around 1 pm. The baarat takes such a long time to cover this small distance as the revellers keep on doing ‘holi milan’ throughout the route. This participation in the festival has played a major role in keeping harmony between people intact. However, the origion of taking out baraat procession is age-old.

First Published: Mar 14, 2006 01:07 IST