New Delhi: It is the festival of colours on Thursday as the entire country celebrates Holi. Since early morning, devotees have been out in temples, offering prayers.
Elaborate preparations have been on in several pilgrim towns like Mathura and Kashi where tourists from across the world have also landed to take part in the festivities.
In Rajkot, the trend of using organic colours is catching on fast as youngsters say this is best way to have a safe holi.
Celebrations are on across the border too in Karachi. Hindus believe the festival marks the burning of demoness Holika. Many also say it signals the onset of spring.
President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday greeted the nation on the auspicious occasion of Holi.
"Holi is a festival of colours that heralds joy, hope and fulfilment in our lives," Patil said in her message. "Like the colours of a rainbow, that are different yet together they reflect beauty, may this festival bring together all the colours of India's diversity in a rainbow of unity," she said.
Observing that the festival marks the onset of spring, Ansari, in a statement, said, "I extend my hearty greetings and good wishes to the citizens of our country on the auspicious occasion of Holi, the festival of colours."
"May this colourful festival bring peace and happiness and promote national integration," the Vice-President said. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his message said the "festival of colours" is a part of the country's rich and diverse cultural heritage and is associated with the celebration of brotherhood and harmony.
"Let the spontaneity and liveliness of this spring festival yet again affirm togetherness of our multi-cultural nation," Singh said.
Holi to colour Queen's diamond jubilee tour
A riot of Holi colours is one of the highlights of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee tour that begins on Thursday from the east Midlands town of Leicester, where members of the British Indian community will present a street performance based on the festival.
The tour marks 60 years of the Queen's reign that began on February 6, 1952. Her coronation took place on June 2, 1953. She celebrated her Silver Jubilee (25 years) in 1977 and her Golden Jubilee (50 years) in 2002.
During her reign, Leicester has witnessed several economic and social transformations, including the migration of thousands of British subjects of Indian-origin who were expelled from Uganda in the early 1970s, and have since prospered and rejuvenated the town.
Among the royal entourage's schedule in Leicester on Thursday is watching a street performance, called '61 Colours', based on the spirit and colours of Holi, on a stage below the Clock Tower in the city centre. David Cameron is the 12th prime minister during the Queen's reign.
Cameron, along with leader of the opposition Ed Miliband and others, paid tributes to her in the House of Commons on Wednesday. The Queen will be accompanied to Leicester by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Leicester City Council said it had ordered 10,000 Union Jack flags and 10,000 metres of bunting for the visit. The Diamond Jubilee will be marked by several visits around Britain and events in the coming months, with the main celebrations taking place in June.
The Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics are seen as major events to showcase Britain to the rest of the world during 2012.
With Additional Inputs from Agencies