होली है !
होली or Holi is a spring festival which marks the advent of pleasant spring after the cold winters.
This festival is also known as the “festival of colours” or the “festival of love”.
Talking about colours, there is no place in the world where the festival of colours comes to life like it does in Vrindavan. It is so grand that usually the celebration at Vrindavan is known as “Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience In India”.
The idea of this trip didn’t quite hit me until one night when my roommate got all enthusiastic and started planning and budgeting a trip to capture the unique celebration of holi that Vrindavan and Mathura offers.
In the beginning, I was like, “Meh”, it’s better to enjoy Holi at home and relax. BUT, a little fiddling through Instagram and a train ride from Andheri to Churchgate did it all to make me super excited and extremely eager to somehow manage a trip to Vrindavan and photograph the raw beauty of Holi.
The celebration of Holi in Vrindavan-Mathura-Nandgaon is completely different from the celebration everywhere else. It is a riot of colours here. As per reports, everyday 1200kgs of coloured powder is used to celebrate the ‘Festival of Colours‘ with a grandeur.
The reason why Holi is also known as the ‘Festival of Love’ is because of its connection with Radha & Krishna.
As per the mythology, Krishna and Radha were residents of Nandgaon and Barsana respectively. Young Krishna used to crib to his Mother, Yashoda regarding Radha being fair while he being dark complexioned. Irritated Yashoda, asked young Krishna to apply गुलाल, gulaal, (coloured powder) on Radha which won’t keep her fair temporarily.
Krishna and his friends travelled to Barsana and applied gulaal on Radha and other Gopis which was all taken in fun and jest. On the next day, Radha along with her Gopis travelled back to Nandgaon to hit Krishna and his friends with sticks in a playful manner.
Since then, the tradition continues till date and today it is celebrated as Lathmaar Holi.
READ ALSO : Celebrating Basanta Utsav in Bengal
The literal translation of Lathmaar Holi is a festival of sticks and colours and the celebration completely lives up to its name.
To follow tradition, men from Nandgaon visit Barsana to smear colours on women of the village while they greet the men by hurling sticks at them.
On the very next day, women come down to Nandgaon dressed up
in their wedding sari to playfully beat up their Kishans.
Though all the men use a shield, (ढाल, Dhal) made of
rubber, the beatings are hard enough to crack open a skull.
During this celebration, a pool of homo sapiens occupies every inch of the road, balcony, roof or any area which can support them to stand and witness this festivity.
The residents nearby the spot of the lathmaar make an income out of it by charging money for allowing people to stand on the terrace.
This celebration takes place seven days before the actual Holi at Nandgaon, 55km from Mathura.
To reach Nandgaon you have take a bus till Barsana, where Lathmaar Holi is celebrated a day before Lathmaar at Nandgaon.
From Barsana you need to take a rickshaw which takes 15-20 minutes to reach Nandgaon.
One can easily come back during the evening, only that one should be very careful as many areas do not have street lights.
Phoolon Wala Holi
As the name suggests, Phoolon Wala Holi also literally translates its name to its action and also mark the beginning of a fragnant Spring.
This is one of the unique holi, which is also the most healthy way. Around 5 quintals of herbal colour and 12 quintals of flowers are used in an enclosed room which is the centre of Banke Bihari Temple.
Flower petals are showered from the above over the devotees who visit Banke Bihari Temple to smear colour on Lord Krishna’s idol.
Phoolon Wala Holi is hardly celebrated for 15-20 minutes but during this time, the experience inside the temple is pure bliss. With the flower shower, it feels like paradise and not just a regular temple.
This trip was a Kolkata Bloggers’ initiative.
I thank OYO Rooms for the partnership. The hotel, Silver Star was centrally placed in the town of Mathura, the service of the hotel and their hospitality was wonderful. The room was spacious and all our requirements were met. I loved the stay at OYO Rooms after the entire tiring day photographing in Vrindavan and Nandgaon.
I thank Tamron on being our equipment partner and providing us with the 15-30mm f/2.8 VC and 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD lenses. The images were sharp all throughout the frame even on 2.8 f-stop, vignetting and distortion was minimal, lens flare was not an issue at all. I loved every shot I fired with this lens.