Holi of Barsana, the birthplace of Radha, a village, 42 kms away
from Mathura, is of particular interest. Here, men from Nandgaon, the land
of Krishna come to play Holi with the girls of Barsana and hope of raising
their flag over Shri Radhikaji's temple. But, instead of colours they are
greeted with sticks by the gopis. Hence, the Holi get its new name here-Lathmaar
Smart enough, men come fully padded as they are fully aware what
kind of welcome awaits them and also the fact that they are not allowed to
retaliate on that day.
In this mock battle of sorts, they try their best not to be captured. The
unlucky one's however, are forcefully led away and get a good thrashing from
the women. Further, they are made to wear a female attire and dance in
public. All in the spirit of Holi.
Renowned poets like Surdas, Nand-das, Kumbhan-das and others have
picturesquely described how Lord Krishna received similar treatment and was
forced to don a sari and wear make-up and perform dance before being
released by the gopies.
The next day, it is the turn of men of Barsana. They reciprocate by
invading Nandgaon and drench the womenfolk of Nandgaon in colours of kesudo
naturally occurring orange-red dye and palash
. Today, the women of
Nadagow beat the invaders from Barsana. It is a colourful site.
However, in the interest of tourism and safety, the state tourist board has
set up excellent vantage points for the public. A large open ground, on the
outskirts of the town is specially set aside for the most magnificent
display of the festivities.
The week long Holi celebrations also continue in the various Krishna
temples on different days. The celebrations are filled with clouds of
colours and of course, much fun.