Holi, The Festival of Colors, IndiaThe four-day Holi folk festival of Sujanpur, which traces its origin to the erstwhile Katoch ruler Sansar Chand, began here amidst fanfare Thursday, the organisers said.

The politicians this time were conspicuously absent due to the Election Commission’s code of conduct for the April-May Lok Sabha polls. Union Culture Minister Chandresh Kumari Katoch is married into the erstwhile royal family.

Sujanpur Holi is a festival with a difference. It mainly comprises folk programmes that will end on the day the festival of colours is celebrated across northern states. on March 17.

Divisional Commissioner Onkar Sharma opened the folk festival at the historic Chaugan. Organisers said due to the model code of conduct, politicians could participate but they can’t use the festivities as a platform for political gains.

The local administration has been organising the festival ever since the rule of princely states came to an end. The festival dates to the time when ruler Sansar Chand (1765-1823) turned it into a popular folk festival on the lines of Holi of ‘Brij’ in Uttar Pradesh.

Besides its historic and religious significance, the festival is linked to the well-being and prosperity of locals. It also promotes tourism and trade. It is believed that on this day, the Katoch ruler used to put aside his royalty and mingle with the masses.

A tank in the royal palace was filled with coloured water and Sansar Chand would kick off the celebrations by splashing it on his queens and relatives. Legend has it that Sansar Chand would take the form of Lord Krishna and his wife Rani Suketki would transform into Radha when they played Holi.

The entire royal family set out of the palace on elephants and passed through streets of the town. The people standing along the way would throw colours on them. The Radha-Krishna temple here is believed to have been built by Sansar Chand in 1790 on the advice of his mother.