Holi is one of the most ancient festivals in India. It was originally named as 'Holika. It is celebrated in most of the parts of the country. The celebrations of Holi are full of immense zeal and fervor. It is also one of the most popular Indian festivals abroad. The celebrations of Holi differ from region to region, as if the Holi in Mathura and Vridavana, differs from those celebrated in Manipur, West Bengal and Orissa. It is said that the trend of colors and the modern form of Holi was introduced in Mathura and Vridavana by Lord Krishna himself and that is people of this region celebrate Holi religiously. One of the most famous kind of Holi celebrations in these areas are the Lathmaar Holi.
Lathmaar Holi is celebrated in Barsana, a small village at a distance
of about 15 km from Vrindavan. It is known throughout India for its
traditional Holi celebrations. No other city in the country can match
the grandeur of the festival here. Barsana is actually the birth place
of Lord Krishna's beloved and divine consort, Radha. This is also the
place where Lord Krishna used to play pranks on his beloved and Gopis
(Radhas companion). This naughty festivity still reflects in the
celebrations of Holi in this village. Holi here is regarded as the
celebration of the divine love of Radha and Krishna.
According to the folklore and mythological tales, Krishna in one of his
pranks, applied dark colors on the cheeks of Radha, as she was fairer
than him. This initiated the tradition of celebrating Holi not only here
but in the whole country. Following the tradition, men from Nandgaon,
the place where Krishna spent his childhood and early days, come to play
Holi with the women of Barsana. Here, women and girls welcome them not
with colors, but with stout sticks.
All this takes place in pursuit of men, trying to put a flag on the
temple dedicated to Radha Rani. To stop them from doing so, women beat
them hard with sticks. Some of them are even made to wear saris and
skirts, all in the spirit of the festival. On the other hand, men,
knowing what awaits them, come fully padded, carrying shields to protect
themselves. The sight of women beating men is electrifying. The
environment echoes with the reverberating sound produced by the stick
hammering the shields.
Lathmaar Holi is definitely an interesting Holi celebration, wherein
men patiently face the charged womenfolk. This is considered the sweet
revenge women take for the ancient pranks played by Lord Krishna on
them. However, after all the women folk is tired and their game is over,
it is now the chance for the men to reciprocate. They drench the women
with the colors of kesudo (a natural dye) and palash, thereby balancing
the deal. At the end of the day, the Holi celebrations at Barsana
present an unforgettable life time experience, downed with the spirit of
devotion and affection for the Lord.