Holi being celebrated at India Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, is actually a lot more than merely smearing each other with colours, as the festivities at India Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai and elsewhere in the UAE proved today.

For the first time, the celebrations took place in a global arena in the presence of Dr Aman Puri, the Consul-General of India in Dubai. The celebrations held at the India Pavilion’s amphitheatre saw participants and visitors throwing flowers and tossing petals, marking Phoolon ki Holi (Flower Holi).

Signalling the end of winter and onset of spring, Holi is celebrated as thanksgiving for a good harvest. It is celebrated in different ways under different names in various Indian states. The Flower Holi is celebrated in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. A Holi flash mob by the students of The Indian High School was also held at the pavilion’s amphitheatre.

Holi celebrations at India Pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubi today. The Flower Holi is celebrated in states such as Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in India. Image Credit: Supplied

A musical performance by popular Indian playback singer Kailash Kher at Dubai Millennium Amphitheatre at night was another highlight of the Holi celebrations at Expo. The day was described by Expo organisers as “one incredibly festive day to meet, laugh, forget and forgive".

Celebrations return in temples

The Hindu temples in Dubai also celebrated Holi after two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The festival is linked to the Hindu deity Krishna and the Shrinathji Krishna Temple run by the Mercantile Hindu Community of Thatta conducted the rituals in the presence of devotees after a gap of two years.

“Every year, Holi is celebrated in full zest and enthusiasm at Shrinathji Temple in Dubai,” Lalit Karani, chairman of the temple management told Gulf News.

However, he said, only the temple priest performed all the rituals last year, as the temple was not open to devotees due to the pandemic.

Holi celebrations at the Krishna Temple in Bur Dubai today. Image Credit: Supplied

“This year, we are grateful that with the visionary leadership of the UAE and the crisis management teams’ successful efforts in handling the COVID 19 crisis, we can celebrate the Holi traditions and rituals, allowing devotees to visit and worship in the temple premises,” Karani said.

“The day of Holi marks the end of 40 days of Holi Khel [divine play of colours]. We have rituals of 40 days of Holi Khel, which end on Dhuleti, marking the end of the season of the festival of colours,” he explained.

He said the celebration this year began with Holika Pradeepan/Dahan [lighting of a bonfire] at 6am on Friday, attended by scores of devotees. “This ritual is associated with the triumph of good over evil.”

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'Mask mandatory'

“We are delighted that we can rejoice during these festive times at the temple again, as we used to do with our community members earlier. Wearing a mask was mandatory, though,” Karani added.

The Shiva Temple (Guru Darbar Sindhi Temple) also marked the festival with the holy bonfire on Thursday evening, a temple trustee said.

India Club in Dubai also held a Holika Dahan event on Thursday evening.

In addition, a series of events were organised by the Indian expatriate community over the weekend to celebrate Holi in its full spirit.