New Delhi: Nine revellers drowned in Andhra Pradesh and Bengal as Holi, the festival of colours heralding the advent of summer, was celebrated across the country today with people applying 'gulal' on each other, gorging on sweets and singing and dancing to songs and drum beats.
There was gusto and bonhomie as merrymakers, with clothes drenched in myriad hues, thronged lanes and narrow alleys, 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.
However, tragedy struck when six teenagers drowned in Andhra's Nizamabad district and at Kukatpally area of Hyderabad when they went to bath after Holi celebrations.
In Bengal, three persons drowned in separate incidents in Howrah district while washing themselves in the pond after taking part in the revelry.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde celebrated Holi with BSF jawans at an outpost near the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan's Jaisalmer district.
The festival was celebrated by the Hindu community and security forces with traditional fervour and gaiety in Kashmir.
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.
Singh 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.