Holi has a different feel in various parts of India. The folks in Barsana and Nandgaon, home turf of Lord Krishna, mimic his playful ways. The colourful, vibrant, vivacious festivities make for a wonderful experience
BY PRIYA GOSWAMI: A freelance photographer and writer, Priya is a former marketing and brand professional who left her regular paycheck for passion, and now enjoys capturing life and people with her camera. With a keen interest in spirituality, art and culture, Priya has been documenting various festivals of India over the past few years.
Listed as one of the craziest festivals around the world that brings people closer together, Holi – the festival of colours – only gets more magical when you move around India. Let’s take you to the famous Lathmar Holi of Barsana through my lens and you can witness the stunning experience.
LATHMAR HOLI, BARSANA
Lathmar Holi: Lath (stick), mar (beating): A festival of playful beating with colour and fun. Mythology has it that Lord Krishna visited Barsana with his friends (gwalas) and his beloved Radha along with her friends (gopis) chased the men away with sticks. On Lathmar Holi, the residents of Barsana continue with the age-old theme where the women chase the men of Nandgaon with playful beatings and throwing of gulal or coloured powder. Men and women of all age groups participate in this celebration, playing the parts of gwalas and gopis. Rangeeli Gali is where men and women play Lathmar Holi with great fervour.
WOMEN OF BARSANA DURING LATHMAR HOLI
At Radha Rani’s Barsana, the beauties with a lath (thick stick) are at their best, chasing away the men (gwalas) from Nandgaon. Dressed in bridalwear, for the newly wedded women, Lathmar is a much-awaited event. Veera Devi of Barsana describes how daughters-in-law are fed well to boost their strength to enable them to play kick-ass Lathmar Holi.
MEN OF NANDGAON DURING LATHMAR HOLI
The men of Nandgaon (a village neighbouring Barsana), the birthplace of Lord Krishna, have an inherent playfulness which comes to the fore especially on Holi. They dress up for the festival with a swag in their style that makes them feel connected to Krishna and allows them to imitate his legendary playful manner.
If you happen to be here, whether you want to or not, you will feel yourself awash with layer upon layer of this vibrant and flamboyant tradition.