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Barsana, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh - Celebration

Lathmar Holi celebrations in Barsana
March Trekking, Travelling and Photography Andy Rawat

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Holi, the Festival of Colours, is one of the most popular occasions in India and is celebrated every year on the full moon day in the month of Phalguna (February to March). There is no better place to celebrate the colourful festival Lathmar Holi than Barsana and Nandgaon in the Braj region, the beautiful Land of Krishna, where people greet each other with “Radhe Radhe” and “Hare Krishna”. Burst of colors, loud music played all around, vibrant people throwing colors on each other, some dancing away to glory, happy and cheerful faces everywhere … it all describes a site of people playing Holi, ‘the festival of colors’. The Holi-celebration at Nandgaon and Barsana takes place approximately a week before the actual date for Holi. India is a country of boundless customs and traditions that form the cultural backbone of the nation. As Holi is just round the corner, there is one such tradition that struck my mind. The holy land of Braj which is known for the transcendental pastimes of Lord Krishna goes colorful throughout the phalguna month due to its world famous phag (holi) mahotsava. The most colorful festival of Lath Mar Holi is one of most favorite traditional festival of Uttar Pradesh for ladies, who are find hitting sticks at each men as the common tradition during this fest. During Festival Devotees prays to god for wellness inside Krishna temple.

On the 8th day of bright lunar fortnight in chaitra the famous Ladoo holi is celebrated in the famous Shriji temple of Barsana where in the evening the special darshan of Shriji (Radharani) is open to all the devotees who eagerly waits in the crowded temple choir for the blessings of Ladliji (Radharani). India's Lathmar Holi Hindu festival: Women covered in coloured powder beat men with sticks. The Hindu festival of Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours, begins on 23 March this year, but celebrations have already begun in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh with a festival called Lathmar Holi. Thousands of people gather to witness the Lath Mar holi when women beat up men with laths as those on the sidelines become hysterical, sing Holi Songs and shout Sri Krishna and Sri Radhey. The 'Lathmar Holi festival' begins with a big ceremony at the Radha Rani temple.

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The very next day on the 9th day of the bright lunar fortnight Lathmar holi is celebrated with great humor and pomp in the Rangeeli gali of Barsana. Holi is one of the most widely celebrated Hindu festivals after Diwali not just in India but also across the world. It marks the start of spring across northern India and is also the festival of colours and love. These gopas come well dressed and prepared with their shields to enjoy and cherish the every moment of this colorful and humorous event. Lathmar Holi (laṭh or lāṭhī: stick) takes place several days before the actual Holi celebration. The most famous places to celebrate the festival are the small towns Barsana and Nandgaon near Mathura in a region where every village is related to a story about the dark-colored Krishna and his dearest devotee, the fair-skinned Radha. Apart from all other holi celebrations in India, the most unique celebrations take place in Barsana, a small village town in Uttar Pradesh.


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Lathmar Holi celebrations in Barsana, Uttar Pradesh and it begins with a ceremony at the Radha Rani temple in Barsana. Holi doesn’t really need an introduction anymore. The festival of colors, celebrated to mark the transition of seasons from Winter to Spring, is now played around the world. Following the tradition, men of Nandgaon, the birthplace of Krishna, come to play Holi with the girls of Barsana, but instead of colours they are greeted with sticks. However, in villages near Mathura - namely Barsana and Nandgaon - it is played in its own unique way, a week before the actual Holi. Here, women, adorning the role of gopis, beat up men, who dress as gops, with sticks (lath); therefore the name: Lathmar Holi. Barsana is the birthplace of Radha and is 42 kms away from Vrindavan. Men from Nandgaon, the land of Krishna come to Barsana to play Holi with the girls with the hope of raising their flag over Shri Radhikaji’s temple. If you are strong enough to enjoy being beaten up then visit Barsana and try a unique way of celebrating Holi.


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Lathmar Holi – a centuries-old practice that gives a free hand to women to beat up their men for a day – kicked off in Barsana amidst colourful and raucous celebrations. Braj Holi is popularly known as 'lath maar holi' during which the men of Nandgao raid Barsana and seek to smear their victory over the temple of Radhika by placing their flag over it. In what is known as the hub of holi in India - Barsana, Holi is known as Lathmaar Holi. Sounds violence?? There is more violence than the name signals off. Every big and small tradition unusual custom in India has its own story of inception. Legend has it that on visiting his beloved on this day, Lord Krishna had playfully teased Radha Rani and her friends. This colourful legend is being replayed every year by local men who visit Barsana on the first day of Lathmar Holi to throw colour on women who fight back and chase the men with sticks. Legends say that Lord Krishna visited the village of Barsana to tease his consort Radha. In return women in the town responded by chasing him away.


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Lathmar Holi played in Barsana town? Yes, it is one of the unique Holi celebrations in India. According to mythology, Mathura is the birth place of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan is where he spent his childhood. It is mentioned in these stories that Holi was celebrated during Lord Krishna's times. One of the many stories behind the Holi celebrations is that Krishna was dark in colour and was jealous of the fair Radha. As we know by now that the festival of Holi is celebrated all over India with great fervour but the most popular Holi is celebrated in well-known Braj bhoomi that include Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Nandgaon, Phalen and Barsana. A highlight of the Holi festivities in Brajbhoomi – land of Krishna and Radha, the Lathmar Holi draws from local legend that says that Krishna visited his beloved Radha on this day and teased her and her friends. In retaliation, the women chased him away. Mathura and Vrindavan are the quintessence of the festival of Holi, which marks the end of winters and the outset of the spring season.


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During this colorful festival participants sip thandai(special cold drink), which is laced with a special paste called as Bhang(made of Cannabis). These gopas come well dressed and prepared with their shields to enjoy and cherish the every moment of this colorful and humorous event. During this Lathmar holi the gopas, who try to put colour on gopis and teases them with their humorous comments are beaten by them with lathis (bamboo staffs). The men, in turn, tease the women and daub them with coloured powders.A thick cloud of gulal and colour shadows the whole temple premises and the whole environment is filled with the cheers of joy and the chants of the glory of Radhe-Krishna. Hindu people believe that Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha's village during these days and playfully teased her and her friends. As amusing and playful as it sounds, it is the tradition of “Lath Mar Holi”, which is mirthfully followed in the town of Barsana near Mathura. Barasana is a small town located in Mathura district whcih is also the birth place of Radha. It is belived that on this particular day men of Nandgaon (hometown of Lord Krishna) come to Barsana to take over "Shri Radhikaji" temple. Barsana is the village of Radha Rani and the only place in India which has her temple.


BY AIR : The nearest airport is Agra (55 km.) that has regular flights to and from other cities like Delhi, Varanasi, Mumbai and Khajuraho. Delhi is the nearest international airport, connected to almost all major cities across the world.

BY TRAIN : Vrindavan has a railway station but Mathura is a major rail head that connects it to Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Mumbai main line.

BY ROAD : Vrindavan can be reached via the direct road that links Delhi to Agra. Buses and car rentals are available to reach the city from Delhi and Agra.

About the author
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Andy Rawat Very passionate about visual design. I'm enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. The point is when I see a sunset, waterfall or something, for a split second it's so great, bcoj a little bit I'm out of my brain. And I wonder if I can somehow find a way to maintain that mind stillness.

Shakun Soni Sharma


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Javan Pond Heron