Braj Ki Holi
Walking down the narrow alleys of what used to be Lord Krishna and Radha’s villages of residence, the echoes of “Radhe-Radhe” welcome you with colours of every kind.
Holi, the festival of colours, is celebrated yearly – the day after the full moon – in the month of Phalguna, as per the Hindu calendar. The history of Holi dates back to ancient times when Lord Krishna celebrated the festival of colours with Radha by throwing coloured powder and water to welcome Spring.
However Holi in the villages of Barsana and Nandgaon are celebrated 10 days prior to the festival. The 2-day event sees tourists from all over the world coming together to celebrate with fervour.
The first day starts as early as 10am where the men folk of Lord Krishna’s village Nandgaon are invited to Barsana. In this unusual yet interesting event the married women folk, instead of extending a warm welcome, beat the men with sticks, while men protect themselves with special shields, made just for this day.
In intervals, “Thandai” and “Bhang” are consumed by the villagers, paired with sweets, and they react differently, laughing or crying – an experience that is meant to de-stress and bond with each other. The women of Barsana prepare a temple and thousands of devotees flock to the venue to experience this unique festival.
On the second day Nandgaon hosts devotees, and a special meet up of the respected older men folk of the village is carried out in the form of a procession, where they are welcomed with bagful of colours, thrown from the balconies of the temple. The atmosphere is electric and enthralling – an absolute visual treat as the air is filled with the bright colours of reds and greens.
Their objective is to win over temple of Shrinathji and hours of folk songs and mantras are recited from their holy book. While everyone is getting soaked in multitudinous colours, it is truly a pure expression of joy to watch the battle between the men and women folk in these two days, where the sheer love for their Lord Krishna is witnessed every moment.
A festival of fun love and finally equality in a male dominated and conservative small town, the festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm.
How to reach:
If you are in Delhi, you can simply hire a cab, go to the event and come back home in the evening. Barsana is about 125km from Delhi, while Nandgaon is 115km away. Or, if you are in Mathura you can hire a cab and go there. The distance is between Mathura and Barsana is about 50km.