Holi across the world is largely associated with Krishna, and people flock to Brijbhoomi to witness the festivities. Even the songs or paintings that celebrate this colourful festival centers around this playful God.
But in the city of Shiva – Banaras (Kashi or Varanasi), Rangbhari Ekadashi marks the beginning of the festival six days before the Holi. It is said that Shiva returned to the city first time after his marriage with Parvati on this day. And his followers which included the motley crowd of ghosts and other animals along with the citizens of the city celebrated his arrival by playing Holi with the couple. And thus, the tradition continues – the Banarasis start the festivities by playing Holi with Shiva-Parvati on this day and the celebrations continue for the next six days in the city.
Banaras is also known as the city of Moksha, people believe in the blessing to embrace the death in this city, where the fire burns perennially on the ghats of Ganga. And a day after Rangbhari Ekadashi Shiva along with his ganas celebrate this festival as well as his marriage on the burning ghats with the ashes from the funeral pyres and this celebration is best described by Pandit Chhannulal Mishra. And it is in this eternal city people celebrate in life as well as in death this eternal cycle.