Sunday, April 07, 2013

Ganga Mela: A unique Holi celebration

Life in a Non Metro-3

When  for the  rest of India  Holi, the festival of colours, is a thing of bygone week and celebrations and Gujhiyas ( a sweet) are over, Kanpur is ready for the second round of  Holi  on Ganga Mela, with more fervor and enthusiasm.

Ganga Mela falls on Anuradha nakshtra, which is three to seven days after Holi.This Holi doesn't have the colour of mythology but of nationalism. The objects of worship are not our Gods but the heros of  National Movement for freedom during Quit India Movement.

During The Quit India Movement (1942) the freedom fighters  hoisted the tricolour on the day of Holi, declaring India free. It infuriated the British administration and the freedom fighters Ghulab Chand Seth, Hamid Khan, Shyam Lal Gupta (lyricist of ‘Jhanda uncha rahe hamara’), Amrik Singh, Raghubar Dayal Bhatt, Bal Kishan Sharma, Pitambar Lal and many more were arrested. 

The city which had witnessed Mutiny of 1857 was furious. People stopped playing Holi and demanded the release of all the freedom fighters. Seeing the protest, the British had to release them. The day of release coincided with the planetary position called Anuradha Nakshatra. Overjoyed people of Kanpur celebrated the festival the whole day and in the evening met at Sarsaiyya Ghat, on the banks of holy Ganges. The tradition is still followed with the spirit of patriotism.

The Campus I live in, has nothing common with the city it belongs to. When we came to Kanpur to settle down I didn't know about this post Holi celebration. It was just a bonus holiday for me, a working mom of two school going kids. But now I feel like urging the people to smear a little Gulal (colour) and take a dip in the ganga on my behalf too, as I salute all the heroes of our freedom struggle.
Sarsaiyya Ghat, Kanpur.