Holi is significant of spring and a good harvest. It is marked by showering of colors and colored water, followed by singing, dancing and merry making. The fun continued with lots of tasty dishes being prepared by all and sharing with all. The celebrations continue for two days and on the first evening the bonfire is lit as a reminder of the burning of Holika, the demon king Hiranya Kashyap’s daughter who was trying to kill his son and her brother Pralad for worshipping Lord Vishnu and not their Demon father. The boy lived and his sister burned, consumed by the fire. The bonfire is considered to be pious and by taking rounds of the fire newlyweds believe it strengthens the bonds of love.
Young and old gather a night before in community centers or religious temples like the Swami Narayan Mandir in Karachi and Krishna Mandir and Aggarwal Ashram in Lahore and light the bonfire signifying the victory of good over evil with wood, straw, etc and ghee and milk are offered to the fire. Hindus sing bhajans and hymns related to the Hindu mythology and distribute sweets and food for all. The next morning is the time to play with powder colors and water colors, balloons and water pistols for children.
Since Hindus are not a dominant religion the celebrations though not on very large scale are organized in most major cities like Lahore, Punjab, Baluchistan, Multan and Karachi. Due to the strained circumstances from the various terror attacks lot of the local Hindu population tend to stay away from big celebrations and just pray for the well being of all.
Most of these are organized by the locals committees and councils like the Pakistan Hindu Council, Hindu Welfare Council and many locals choose to have very low key celebrations. It is not a national holiday in Pakistan so many people prefer not to take paid leave and do give it a miss altogether and choose to work. Most of these councils also make arrangements for the event to be conducted and all possible security and safety measures.
Holi in Pakistan is usually a low key affair though all the traditional rituals and customs are observed by the Hindus. Many of the locals take this festival as an opportunity to mingle and enjoy the lighthearted fresh spirit of this day. Holi makes a perfect occasion for bring the young and old out from their houses to celebrate the arrival of summer and shed the winter sluggishness with a riot of rainbow hued colors.