Holi, the festival of colors is celebrated with a great deal of fervor and enthusiasm throughout the state of Uttar Pradesh. But differences mark the way in which they are celebrated. The small town of Barsana located at a distance of about 42 km from Mathura is well known for its distinctive manner of celebrating Holi. Barsana, the birth place of Radha, Lord Krishna’s beloved attracts a large number of visitors each year when it celebrates Holi.
Description of the Barsana Holi, Uttar Pradesh
On this particular day, the men of Nandgaon come to Barsana. Their intention is to take over the temple of Shri Radhikaji. But the women of Barsana are reluctant to allow them to do so. They resist them with bamboo sticks.
The men are unable to strike back. All they can do is to splash colors on the women. The men who are caught are rather unfortunate. The men are forced to clad themselves in women’s clothes, apply cosmetics and dance like ladies in front of everybody.
This is embarrassing to them but others have their fair share of laughter. However everything is done in the right spirit. It is a mock battle and both the victors and the vanquished enjoy everything thoroughly. According to legend, Lord Krishna met with similar kind of treatment from the gopis.
Just the reverse happens on the next day. The men of Barsana drench the women of Nandgaon.
The air reverberates with holy songs on the occasion of Holi. These songs known as Hori are based on the conservations between Krishna and Radha.
It is indeed a delight to watch all the people participate in this unrestrained merry making. It is pleasantly entertaining and provides everyone with a lot of joy.
Time for celebrating the Barsana Holi, Uttar Pradesh
Barsana Holi is celebrated on the ninth day of the month of Phalgun according to the Hindu calendar. It corresponds to the month of February or March.
It is best to plan a visit to Barsana when Holi is celebrated. The State Tourism Board has arranged a special viewing of the celebrations in a ground on the outskirt’s of the town. You can witness the brilliance and splendor that marks Barsana Holi easily.
Description of the Lathmar Holi, Uttar Pradesh
Lathmar Holi is a unique way of celebrating Holi in Nandgaon and Barsana towns in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. Holi, a festival of colors is one of the main festivals of Hindus and is celebrated with great enthusiasm throughout India.
The festivities of Lathmar Holi are very different from the play of colors. Lath means stick and Mar means to beat. So, basically Lathmar means to beat with a stick. India is perhaps the only country where you will get to witness such amazing forms of festival celebration. This form of merrymaking is a bit different. Quite popular in cities of Uttar Pradesh, particularly Mathura - Lord Krishna's birthplace, Nandgaon – where Lord spent his childhood and Barsana – the birthplace of Goddess Radha (beloved of Shree Krishna), Lathmar Holi holds a special significance.
Women smear colors on men to mark the beginning of the Lathmar Holi. Entire complex echoes with the chants of ‘Shri Radha’ and ‘Shri Krishna’. Folk songs are sung, thandai – a traditional drink is served and sweets are distributed. On the next day, men return to Barsana and this time they try to smear women with colors. But now, women bring sticks to beat them who in return protect themselves with shields. To add more fun, some of the men who get caught by the women are made to dress up as women. They then sing and dance along with the females while enjoying the festival.
All this is done joyfully while making sure that nobody gets hurt. No wonder, one should try to be a part of the Lathmar Holi in Nandgaon and Barsana besides Mathura-Vrindavan at least once in a lifetime.
Legend of Lathmar Holi
According to folklore, Lord Krishna went to meet her beloved Radha and playfully teased her along with her friends. In return, Radha Rani and other women chased him with sticks. From that day onwards, men from Nandgaon visit Barsana a few days before main Holi only to be greeted by sticks.
Several men from Mathura and Nandgaon visit Radha Rani temple in Barsana 4-5 days before Holi to perform some rituals. Thereafter, everyone gathers in the temple compound to form a famous narrow lane called ‘Rang Rangeeli Gali’ (the colorful lane).
Lathmar Holi signifies the re-enactment of the incident mentioned above. Thus, everything is done while maintaining the sanctity of the event. Every year, men from Nandgaon visit the town of Barsana and the women drive them out with sticks (i.e., lathi) and colors. Done in good cheer, the
Best Time to Visit
Lathmar Holi is celebrated almost a week before the festival of Holi. It is best advised to get to towns of Barsana and Nandgaon in time to enjoy it.
Places to Visit Barsana and Nandgaon
Radha Rani Temple - Located on the Bhanugarh hill in Barsana, the Radha Rani Temple is among the holy places to visit in the town. It is the only temple dedicated to the Goddess Radharani. The holy shrine is known as LadiLalji or Shree ji temple. Walk up the beautiful staircase of around 108 stairs to have the divine glimpse of Shri Radha Rani.
Maan Mandir - Honoring the divine love of Radha- Krishna, the Maan Mandir is located at the hilltop of the Maan Garh, also known as Maan Ghaati. At the temple, it is said that Krishna pleaded to gain the favor of his beloved when she got angry with him.
Sankari Khor - The holy place touched by the naughtiness of Lord Krishna, Sankari Khor is a narrow passage between the two hills of Brahmagiri Parvat and Vilasa Parvat. This is the place where Lord Krishna collected dana (tax) from the Gopis as a pastime.
Mor Kutir Mandir - This holy shrine honors the tale when Lord Krishna and Radharani were visited by crowds of peacocks to honor their divine love. Pilgrims visit the spot to get blessings and spot peacocks.
Rangeeli Mahal - It is a sacred pilgrimage site where Radha Rani’s palace existed 5,000 years ago. Rangeeli Mahal is now a shrine where Radha Krisha leela is depicted. It is adorned by beautifully landscaped gardens and waterfalls amongst other things.
Nand Bhavan - One of the highly revered temples in Nandgaon, located atop Nandishwar Hill, this is one of the must-visit places. It is the only shrine where the foster parents (Nand and Yashoda) of Lord Krishna are worshipped.
Nandisvara Temple - Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Nandisvara Temple is one of the five most sacred Lord Shiva temples in the Braj region. The Shiva Linga worshipped in the temple is one of the oldest of its kind, believed to be installed by the grandson of Lord Krishna.
How to Reach Barsana and Nandgaon
Barsana-Nandgaon is only 12 km from Mathura and is a part of the pilgrimage circuit of Mathura-Vrindavan.
By Air: The closest airport is the Agra Airport at a distance of 88 km. However, the international airport in Delhi is almost 172 km away. The Delhi airport is for visitors flying from far parts of the world and India. Delhi has good connectivity of buses and cabs to get to Barsana-Nandgaon.
By Rail: The closest railway station is in Mathura, at a distance of 12 km and can be reached by a taxi or cab. Frequent trains from Delhi and other cities of India ply on the route.
By Road: Nandgaon and Barsana is well-connected with roads from cities all over India. Devotees can reach easily through cabs and buses from Delhi and Mathura.