The spring festival of Holi was heralded with a riot of colours today as revellers across the country applied 'gulal' on each other, gorged on sweets and sang and danced to songs and drum beats.
There was gusto and bonhomie as the festival of fun and frolic passed off peacefully with police keeping a hawk-eye vigil.
With clothes drenched in myriad hues, merrymakers thronged lanes and narrow alleys to celebrate Holi, giving a go-by to old squabbles and distributed sweets.
People embraced each other wishing "Happy Holi" as unseen hands squirted them with a well-timed coloured water spray. Water-filled balloons were lobbed from rooftops and balconies as cries of "Holi hai" reverberated the streets.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde celebrated Holi with BSF jawans at an outpost near the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer district. The minister arrived in the morning and went to Tanot Mata temple, about 150 km from Jaisalmer, and visited the BSF post.
The festival was celebrated by the Hindu community and security forces with traditional fervour and gaiety in Kashmir. Army and paramilitary troopers gathered in camps in the Kashmir Valley and danced to the beats of popular Holi songs from Bollywood and sprinkled colour on each other, far away from their homes.
President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed the hope that the festival will strengthen faith in national values and promote oneness and harmony.
"On the joyous occasion of Holi, I convey my greetings and good wishes to all my fellow countrymen. This festival which marks the advent of spring, is a harbinger of joy, hope and fulfilment for all," the President said.
The Prime Minister said the festival of colours is the celebration of "life and goodness and gives opportunity to strengthen the spirit of brotherhood."
In Punjab's Amritsar district, BSF jawans celebrated Holi at the Attari international border. The Durgiana temple in Amritsar was tastefully decorated and people thronged it, so was the holy city of Anandpur Sahib.
In the national capital, police personnel were deployed across the city.
BJP veteran L K Advani met visitors and party leaders at his residence here on the occasion.