Shahjahanpur (Uttar Pradesh), March 29 (IANS) About two dozen mosques and ‘mazaars’ in Shahjahanpur have been covered with tarpaulin as the city prepares for its famous ‘Joota mar Holi’.
The Joota Mar Holi is an age-old tradition in which a procession, known as ‘Laat Saheb ka juloos’, is taken out through a distance of about eight kilometres.
The ‘Laat Saheb ka Juloos’ was earlier known as ‘Nawab Saheb ka Juloos’.
A man, designated as ‘Laat Saheb’ is made to sit on a chair in a bullock cart and as the procession moves ahead, people hit him with shoes and broomsticks.
He is made to wear a helmet that protects him and also conceals his identity.
“There are two processions that are taken out on Holi — ‘Laat saheb ka Juloos and then a ‘Chhota Laat saheb ka Juloos’. No one knows how the tradition began but it is now more than 100 years old. At times, the shoes thrown at the procession land up in mosques along the routes so we have started covering the shrines to prevent any communal tension,” said Additional Superintendent of Police Sanjay Kumar.
A heavy deployment of forces is made along the routes of the two procession and a vigil is maintained on miscreants who could disrupt social harmony.
Peace committee meetings, involving senior members of the two communities, are held on the eve of the festival and efforts are made to ensure peace during the festival.
Inspector General of Police Rajesh Pandey said, “We will be monitoring the situation through drones and police personnel have been deployed in adequate numbers for the event.”
Interestingly, the identity of the ‘Laat Saheb’ is kept a closely guarded secret for security reasons.
The person appointed as ‘Laat Saheb’ is paid a hefty amount for the event and his boarding and lodging is also taken care of by the organizers.
Sanjay Verma, one of the organizers, said, “The person chosen as ‘Laat Saheb’ could belong to any community but we make sure that his name is not revealed because we do not want him to face ridicule later.”