MOKAMA, BIJAR: Celebrations for Holi, the Hindu festival of colours, were in full swing on Friday, with people happily splashing themselves with powdered dye as the pandemic showed signs of receding across the country.

Marking the end of winter and symbolizing the triumph of good over evil, Holi is observed on the last full moon of the lunar month of Phalguna with bonfires, sweets and dancing to traditional music.

Celebrations have been stifled for the past two years due to restrictions on gatherings as COVID-19 cases soared, but infections have fallen sharply in recent weeks, from more than 300,000 a day in January less than 3000.

“People are freer and more comfortable because the restrictions have been lifted,” Rajiv Mehta, chairman of a housing company in Noida, told Arab News.

This year, Mehta is hosting a Holi party for all 2,000 residents of the housing corporation.

“We’re not as restrained as before and there’s less fear of coronavirus this time around,” he said. “It’s an important holiday for all of us and the day allows us to let loose, eat and play with colors without any restraint.”

Holi takes its name from Holika, the demonic sister of evil king Hiranyakashipu in Indian mythology, who tried to forbid her son from worshiping the Hindu deity Vishnu and wanted to kill him with her help.

Hiranyakashipu ordered them to sit on a burning pyre, lying to the son that his aunt, who was immune to fire, would protect him. But when the flames struck, it was Holika who burned alive and the demon king’s son survived with the help of Vishnu.

The night before Holi, Hindus burn pyres to symbolize the death of Holika and the triumph of good over evil. As the next day arrives, they bombard each other with powdered pigment in an explosion of joy and equality, as color hides all class lines.

Dr Vivek Vishvas, a senior lecturer at Maharaja Agrasen College, University of Delhi, said Holi as a social festival is “different from other festivals celebrated in India”.

“People, whether rich or poor, Hindu or Muslim, all gather together to celebrate the festival. This festival is not complete without the involvement of society at large.

For Jai Prakash Yadav, a teacher in Mokama, in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, Holi is “therapeutic”.

“It allows you to take liberties and engage in playful banter with others,” he said. “This year, the virus is not taking its toll, and that has given more freedom to play and celebrate this beautiful festival.”

One doctor’s advice was to enjoy this freedom as long as you don’t have symptoms of coronavirus.

“Compared to the past two years, COVID-19 is less visible, and this has given people an opportunity to indulge in the Holi festivities this year,” said Dr. Avinash Bhondwe, former president of the western chapter of the Indian Medical Association. Arab News.

“If people want to play Holi, they should play. If they catch a cold, they should get tested immediately to contain the spread of the virus.