Lathmar Holi Barsana

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In March 2016 my dream of experiencing Lathmar Holi in the land of Krishna and Radhe came true. Day one is Laddo Holi. Day two morning is parikrama of Barsana, evening is Lathmar Holi. Women of Barsana hit men from Krishna''s hometown Nandgaon. To see pics of Laddo Holi and parikrama Click here

U see Radha Rane Mandir Barsana. On right of pic is a old haveli. Minutes away from this haveli is where Lathmar Holi happens.

Of the two lanes that lead to the centre point where Lathmar Holi is played this is one. With time it is packed to capacity. Crowds on top of buildings and in balconies.

The Yadav Samaj come in a procession informing their arrival with banging of this drum. I was staying in a Yadav mohallah and heard this noise often but did not know it was for this. My hosts told me that earlier individual communities brought their processions but now only the Yadavs do so.

In centre where lathmar holi is played. Mood is festive. Every inch of space occupied. With great difficulty we gone onto the first floor of an old building. Since so many of us were standing on the chajja, worried it should not come crashing down.

Delhite or local, foreigner or Indian you had to look colorful as you see this tourist in pic. "The tradition of playing colours on Holi draws its roots from Radha and Krishna. It is said that young Krishna was jealous of Radha’s fair complexion since he himself was dark."

Love is walking together hand in hand. Color is thrown in the air by one and all, fortunately it is dry. "He narrated his woe to mother Yashoda, who teasingly asked him to colour Radha’s face in which ever colour he wanted. In a mischievous mood, Krishna applied colour on Radha’s face."

Boy walks in with sack full of color. People put their hand in the bag and throw color all over. "Thus the tradition of applying colour on one’s beloved is being religiously followed till date."

Boys from Nandgaon rushing into venue after playing holi. "People relive the stories of Holi associated with Radha and Krishna, play pranks as the young Krishna played with gopis. The underlying feeling of this fun-frolic was love and devotion."

The first few ladies with lathis arrive at venue, boys embrace each other - both begin to dance to dholak.

Young boys of Nandgaon with shields to protect themselves from the ladies of Barsana. "The women of Barsana village near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh beat up men from neighbouring Nandgaon village with sticks, in what’s known as Lathmar Holi."

Shield has two wooden pieces below to hold on to and a round thing on top, made of raxin or leather I think. Boys walking in narrow lane referred to earlier.

Ladies make their way through narrow lane, lathi in hand. Lathmar Holi is celebrated about 6 days before Holi is celebrated all over India.

This is where all the action happens. I was standing next to person on left of pic. Only photographers with identity cards from mainstream media were allowed to be on the second floor of a building from where one got a super view. Do enjoy Holi celebrations in Vrindavan too, wow. It was held on the day after Lathmar Holi at Nandgaon, just exact dates.

Getting ready. Very colourful. Common joke - there were as many photographers as locals.

Women hit with full strength, sometimes one to one, two is to one or even four sticks on a man''s head. Next day Lathmar Holi is celebrated in Nandgaon whose pics we present separately.

Getting ready to start.

Here we go.

Getting hit from front and behind. Men have to hold really tight since hits were quite hard.

In centre of venue, just loved the colors.

U see some photographers on left. That is where the VIP''s sat. Others sat in the lane adjacent to this platform.

From the centre the lathmar moves on to smaller lanes. Never seen women hit so hard. Everyone enjoys the festivities, women and men and tourists.

After being hit with lathis saw many a young boy touch the feet of the lady and take her blessings. Some gave a shagun too. Loved the spirit of this festival.

Smiling inspite of the lathi hits raining from top. "The men wear huge turbans decorated with leaves to protect themselves from the colour and beatings of the women of Barsana. "

Ladies have surrounded a man and hitting from all sides.

Women cover their faces, dress in beautiful saris, lots of jewellery but hit very hard.

With all the red color men look so different. Such a colorful festival.

A close up of lathmar holi. "Women unleash a shower of sticks on the naughty boys of Nandgaon to teach them a lesson for all the broken pots and for teasing the girls of Barsana."

Some more action.

Note how the shield is held. He has to hold on to the wood tightly, any loss of grip means the lathi comes on his head.

View from centre. Lane that was empty in pic 3 is now full of people.

Multi-pronged attack by women of Barsana.

Brave women. After all the entertainment they provided the crowds with, some women ask for shagun. My pocket got picked so had no money to give. Be careful of pic pocketers, they are all over the place.

Cop taking a selfie with a foreign tourist. Festival attracts lots of foreign tourists.

Lathmar Holi in bye lane.

Guarded look.

Some more action. To see pics of Hornbill Festival Nagaland Click here

U see them wearing local style topi. Color, song and happiness all around. To see pics of Sangai Festival Manipur Click here

This Sadhu think from South India seemed surprised by the festivities. South India too has super festivals but different from Lathmar Holi. To see pics of Thrissur Pooram Festival Kerala Click here

Pic of day before Lathmar Holi - celebrations at Radha Rani Mandir, riot of colors. To see pics of Laddoo Holi Click here

4 women of barsana. Note lady on extreme right of pic does not appear to be very young.