Suresh Yadav/Republica An empty crossroads in Janakpur’s main market on Monday. In the past the square would host Holi celebration programs and would be thronged by revelers.
JANAKPUR, March 14: Holi is a big festival for Janakpur residents. It would be celebrated with great pomp that included folk songs, dance, music and lots of colors. Cultural groups would get booked from weeks earlier while markets and crossroads would be thronged by massive crowd. This year nothing as such happened.
There were no formal gatherings or events anywhere. Except for few individuals, people did not celebrate Holi. The mood for celebration, the locals said, was robbed by the recent killings of innocent civilians in Saptari district.
“Preparation for holi was going on as every year. But the Saptari incident simply killed all the enthusiasm,” said Shesh Narayan Yadav, leader of Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum. He added the same is the situation in Mahottari and Siraha apart from Saptari. “The core Madhes is silent. It is not in celebration mood,” he added.
On Monday last week, security forces had opened fire in Saptari following scuffle with protestors who wanted to disrupt CPN UML’s Mechi - Mahakali campaign. Three died the same day while two others died later. Many others were injured. Even though the security forces were widely criticized for opening the fire, they defended the action stating bigger loss was much likely if such action was not taken.
“We are still mourning the recent deaths. We could not celebrate as we are offering condolences to them. So, Holi was meaningless for us,” Yadav said.
According to Yadav, his party had formally announced boycotting Holi celebration considering the death of civilians that were participating in peaceful protests. As a result, bookings with several cultural bands were cancelled, he informed.
Along with political parties, cultural organizations joined in the boycott. One of the main organizers of Holi events in Janakpur, Mithila Natya Parishad, also boycotted celebrations. On the third day of the tragic incident, it had organized a press-meet to announce the boycott.
“All the people of Mithila are sad following the incident. In such a situation, organizing events would make no sense,” said Sunil Mallik, former president of the committee. “In the past, we had organized great programs but this time everything is different,” he added.
Mallik informed that there was grand preparation for ‘Mahamurkha Sammelan’ to celebrate Holi. All the artists were finalized and rehearsal was going on. Similarly, top level professional dancers and musicians were invited. “However, we had to say no to all. There was no point of going ahead with the programs in such an atmosphere,” he said.
Popular superstar of Bhojpuri movies Dineshlal Nirhuwa and actress Amrapali, among other cine stars, were invited for the program, Mallik said. “The preparation was almost over. At the end, we had to stop it,” he said, adding that death of five people was overwhelmingly tragic.
Ramananda Yuva Club, Janaki Yuva Club, FNCCI - Janakpur and Samyukta Yuva Sangarsha Committee of Janakpur, among others also boycotted Holi. These and other groups had announced their plans to not celebrate Holi to mourn the killings.
A group of youths celebrate Holi on a Nepalgunj street on Monday.