Varanasi: ‘Khele Masane mein Holi Digamber, khele masane mein Holi’ (Lord Shiva plays Holi in cremation ground) – the popular folk song made everyone completely soaked in pyre ashes to dance amid the burning pyres at Manikarnika Ghat, the great cremation ground in Kashi, on Friday.
It is ‘Chitabhasma Holi’ (Holi with pyre ashes), a unique feature of the city of Lord Shiva, who is believed to be the key player of this Holi with his beloved ganas (followers) – bhoota-preta (ghosts), celebrated a day after Rangbhari Ekadashi.
Mythology says that devotees of Lord Shiva play Holi with him on the occasion of Rangbhari Ekadashi when he brings his wife Goddess Parvati home for the first time after marriage on Mahashivratri.
“Since Lord Shiva’s ‘ganas’ do not get a chance to play colours on Rangbhari Ekadashi, the deity himself comes to the cremation ground to play Holi of ashes with them on the next day,” said the organizer Gulshan Kapoor adding that it was an ancient tradition, but revived 20 years back.
People assembled at the temple of Mahashamashan Nath, the lord of cremation ground, and after offering prayer to the deity they indulged in sprinkling ashes to each other and dancing. Not only locals but a number of foreigners could be seen enjoying the unique Holi that happens only in Kashi.
(pics and video by Sanjay Gupta)