Shahjahanpur (UP), Mar 21 (PTI) Continuing an 18th century tradition that celebrates communal amity, the festival of colours in this Uttar Pradesh town will begin not with 'gulal' but with revellers hurling footwear at a 'Laat Saab' procession featuring a buffalo cart and a hapless man personifying a Britisher.
With hundreds of people expected to gather in the town, preparations have already begun for the 'juta maar' Holi on March 29.
Senior police and administrative officials have reviewed the arrangements and issued directions for ensuring smooth celebrations.
Superintendent of Police S Anand said a large number of police personnel will be deployed during the celebrations.
Elaborating on the history of the procession of 'Laat Saab', Vikas Khurana, the head of History department of Swami Shukdevanand College, told PTI, 'On the day of Holi, the procession of 'Bade Laat Saab' is taken out on a buffalo cart with Holi revellers hurling 'juta' (footwear) at him.' The Holi tradition dates back to the early 18th century during the time of Nawab Abdullah Khan, the last emperor of the dynasty that founded Shahjahanpur, who was popular among both Hindus and Muslims.
The tradition of people taking out a procession with the nawab seated on a camel continued till 1857.
However, this event symbolising the Hindu-Muslim unity was not liked by the British, and in 1858, Mardan Ali Khan, the commander of Bareilly's military ruler Khan Bahadur Khan, attacked the revellers and both Hindus and Muslims were killed in the violence.
In 1859, when the Nawab took out the procession on Holi, footwear were hurled at it on the instigation of the British rulers.
After Independence in 1947, the tradition was revived and the administration changed the name of the procession to 'Laat Saab' to symbolise the oppressive British regime. Since then it is known by this name.
The celebrations have two parts -- the processions of 'Bade Laat Saab' and 'Chhote Laat Saab'.
The procession of 'Bade Laat Saab' begins from Phoolmati Devi Mandir and proceeds towards Baba Vishwanath Mandir. Similarly, the procession of 'Chhote Laat Saab' begins from Ram Chandra Mission ke Sarai and culminates there itself after a short march.
'For the processions of Bade Laat Saab and Chhote Laat Saab, a demand has been made for five circle officers, 30 police station in-charges, 150 sub-inspectors, 900 constables, two companies of PAC (Provincial Armed Constabulary) and two companies of RPF and two drone cameras. The men and machinery will possibly reach by March 25,' he said. According to the organisers, this time 'Laat Saab' will come from Delhi. 'Laat Saab' had come from Rampur last time. PTI CORR NAV SMN SMN