A Nawabi ?rang? in Holi tale | india | Hindustan Times
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A Nawabi ?rang? in Holi tale

THOUGH MAYBE not as well known as the famous Braj ki Holi in Mathura, Lucknow has its own distinct tradition of celebrating the festival of colours with equal elan and elegance under Nawabi patronage.

india Updated: Mar 15, 2006 01:05 IST

THOUGH MAYBE not as well known as the famous Braj ki Holi in Mathura, Lucknow has its own distinct tradition of celebrating the festival of colours with equal élan and elegance under Nawabi patronage.

“Holi then was hassle-free. Unlike today’s crude manner, Holi then was played with tehzeeb (refinement) and saliqa (order),” recalls chronicler Yogesh Pravin.
And while Nawab Wajid Ali Shah celebrated the festival in Qaiserbagh Palace by participating in masques and operas extolling the virtues of Lord Krishna, Lucknow’s leitmotif was an incident that took place during Nawab Asaf-ud-daula’s time.

“The festival then coincided with Moharram. Nawab Asaf-ud-daula was on his way to attend a ‘majlis’ (religious congregation) in Talkatora when passing through Chowk he noticed that people were not playing Holi,” recounts Pravin.

Hindus out of reverence for the religious feelings of Muslims for whom Moharram is a month of mourning had decided not to celebrate the event.

“Cutting short his journey Asaf-ud-daula played Holi with them, went back to his palace and changed before proceeding for the ‘majlis’,” said Pravin adding that Mir Taqi Mir had even penned a paean to glorify the incident, a quintessence of integrity:”Holi khele Asaf-ud-daula wazir……..”

Raja Tikait Rai and Maharaja Jhau Lal, who were the Diwans (courtiers) of the Nawabs, visited Kothi Farhat Baksh, where the princes lived, on the festival of colours to raise a toast and more. There would be a lavish spread of delicacies and drinks laced with the most exotic condiments both alcoholic and non-alcoholic were served.

“Pink was the favourite colour, which was sprinkled along with ‘tesu’ on participants, who dressed up in starch white clothes,” says Pravin. The young ones laid at the feet of their elders silver trays decked with abeer and gulal along with marigold flowers to mark the beginning of the celebrations. Having received their blessings, the young would go on to splash colour on each other.