Modi looms large over Varanasi's Holi festivities

Modi looms large  over Varanasi's  Holi festivities

Known for its trademark Holi celebrations, which includes copious consumption of bhang (Indian Hemp) by revellers, this year’s festival of colours  in Varanasi was almost completely overshadowed by the BJP’s announcement to field Narendra Modi from there in the Lok Sabha polls.

Though speculation about Modi's candidature from Varanasi had been there for some time, the official announcement came barely thirty six hours before Holi. The timing couldn’t have been better for Modi's supporters as they rolled both celebrations into one.

Although the announcement came close to Holi, Modi managed to make it into the phag (folk songs which are sung during Holi), and was also available in the form of paan!
 Varanasi is famous for its paan, immortalised on celluloid in the song “Khai ke paan Benaras wala” by Amitabh Bachchan in the 1978 film, Don. “NaMo Paan” was introduced by some betel leaf vendors, apparently to cash in on “Modi fever”. It seems to have found many takers. 

“NaMo paan” was seen being sold from shops in the famous Vishwanath Gali, the lane that led to the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple. For the more enthusiastic, “NaMo” masks were available for Rs 250 each.

Songs about Modi composed by the local artistes reverberated on the ghats on the bank of the Ganges and in the crowded lanes of the holy town on Monday. Groups of Holi revelers, accompanied by local musicians singing “bola har-har Modi...bola ghar-ghar Modi” made rounds through Varanasi’s localities.

It remains to be seen if the initial euphoria translates to votes on May 12 when Varanasi will choose its representative.

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