Holi at Barsana, Nandgaon, and Vrindavan
Holi (North-India)/ Dol (West Bengal)/ Shigmo (Goa)/ Yaosang (Manipur)/ Manjal Kuli (Kerala)/ Phaguwa (Bihar)/ Phakuwah (Assam)/ Rang Panchami (Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh) – different regions, different names for the same Festival of Colors with the same jauntiness, across India.
While this festival is celebrated with mostly equal exuberance in almost every part of India, Holi in Braj is especially a popular tourist attraction. Braj is a historical region covering Mathura, Vrindavan and some neighboring areas in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Holi here attracts tourists and pilgrims equally from all over the world because of its ability to hold on to the customs and age-old Indian traditions intact for nearly thousands of years.
Mythology: Mathura is the birth-place of the Hindu God, Lord Krishna and Vrindavan is the place where he is said to have spent his childhood. The story goes when Krishna was young, he cried to his mother about Radha (his friend) being light-skinned while Krishna himself had a darker complexion. His mother (Yashoda) suggested him to color Radha with colors in a playful manner. Following this particular ritual, Krishna from his village Nandgaon used to go to Barsana (Radha’s village) to color Radha and other Gopis(other women of the village). They also used to playfully beat him with sticks. This tradition descended over the years with almost same customs giving rise to the “Lathmaar Holi” here.
Barsana Holi celebrations begin a week ago from the scheduled date of Holi in the country. Barsana, a village near Mathura and the village of Radha, is famous for its Lathmar Holi in which women beat men (playfully) with sticks.
Another important tourist attraction in Braj is the Gulab-Kund near Govardhan Hill – a lake around which scenes of Holi are enacted as an objective of recreation for the devotees there.
Nandgaon, however, kickstarts its Holi celebrations a day after the celebrations begin at Barsana. A variegated parade of faces with smiles shower the 2 places following the legend that Radha with her friends had come to Nandgaon to apply colors to Lord Krishna.
Another “Holi-Hotspot” is Vrindavan with the Bank-e-Bihari temple taking the center stage for all the festivities. The idol of Lord Krishna is decorated in white clothes and brought near the devotees to play Holi. Even the priests readily participate in the festivities, spreading organic colors through Gulaal and water sprays.
However, it is not the only temple in Vrindavan with Holi proceedings. All temples of Lord Krishna are engrossed into some sort of celebrations during this great festival. The festival in this part of the country is celebrated with a completely different sense of pomp and show with outstanding cooperation with nature.
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Written by:- Neeladri Bhattacharjee
Edited by:- Pristine Routes