50-day no-holds-barred celebration in this UP town

Holi hai

It may be a one-day affair in the rest of India, but Holi is a 50-day cultural exposition in Braj in UP.

Holi is a no-holds-barred celebration inspired by the legend of Krishna-Radha. Locals say even Mughal emperors Akbar and Jahangir used to participate in the festival.

“It is a 50-day affair, starting with Basant Panchami,” said Acharya Jaimini, a Vrindavan resident.

The festivities begin with Holi celebrations at Dwarkadheesh temple in Mathura. Braj, considered the birthplace of Lord Krishna, is spread over a 100-km radius.

“We use natural colours made by mixing tesu flowers with lukewarm water,” a temple official said.

“This festival is not a religious one; it is a socio-cultural affair as people from all communities join the festivities,” Jagannath Poddar, director of NGO Friends of Vrindavan.
The Lath Maar Holi in Barsana is also known for its unique way of celebration. Families in Barsana send out huriyarins (women participants) in Lath Maar Holi. The women then thrash men with sticks.

Preparations for the event start a month in advance. “People let out steam through violence occasionally,” said Poddar.

In the narrow lanes of the town, thousands of pilgrims — showering colours and rose petals — stand along the 252 steps to the Radha temple to see Lath Maar Holi.
Locals say mothers-in-law feed nutritious food to their daughters-in-law so that they can show their prowess on the battlefield on Holi.

Legend has it that Lord Krishna and his friends from Nandgaon town in Mathura had gone to Radha’s village in Barsana to play Holi.

This year, due to an extended winter and the state Assembly polls, people took longer to get into the mood for celebrations.

A steady rise in temperature for the last few days has helped though.

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