Holi is a festival of love and colours. This ancient Hindu festival also marks the arrival of spring season. It signifies the victory of good over immoral too.
Holi is a festival where people come together from all walks of life to sing, dance and splash their friends and family with scented-coloured powder and water. Although Holi is a Hindu festival, it is celebrated by Indians all across the country. The festival falls on the last full moon day of Phagun according to the Hindu calendar. This year the ‘Rangwali Holi’ is taking place on Tuesday, March 10.
Holi is an all-day affair where people throw and smear coloured powder on each other. The tradition of throwing colours is believed to originate from the mythological love story of Radha-Krishna. It is said that one day Krishna was sad over his dark complexion and wondered why Radha was so fair. Lord Krishna’s mother Yashoda playfully suggested that he can smear colours on Radha’s face and change her complexion to any colour he wanted. Fascinated by this idea of his mother, Lord Krishna went to Radha and applied colours on her face with all love and affection. Thus he introduced this festival of colours. Because Krishna introduced this festival of colours and the festival has an intimate connection with the divine deities’ pure love, the Holi of Braj, Barsana, Mathura and Vrindavan is famous all over the world. These districts are situated in Northern state Uttar Pradesh of India. The places are best to visit experience the authentic and conventional form of Holi celebration. These include:
Radha Rani temple: This temple is situated in Barasana, a place near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. Radha used to live in Barsana. As per the legends, Krishna would visit Radha’s village every year before Holi along with his friends. He used to play Holi with Radha and gopis there. Today also the Holi festivities can be seen here about a week prior to the actual date of Holi.
The men belonging to Nandgaon dress up as Krishna and visit Barsana to play Holi with the women residing there. In response, the women of Barsana dress up as Radha and beat the men from Nandgaon in a playful manner with sticks and ropes. This is called as ‘Lathmaar Holi’. The venue of this famous event is Radha Rani temple. The celebration is worth watching here.
Banke-Bihari temple: This temple is situated at Vrindavan. Here also the Holi festivities start well in advance. The idol of Lord Krishna in the temple is dressed up in white clothes. Priests of the temple also take part in Holi festivities by showering organic gulal and flowers on the devotees.
Everybody present in the temple chants the name of Radha-Krishna. Religious music, zeal among the people and their devotion for Lord Krishna fills the environment of the temple with jubilation and ecstasy. People dance getting lost in the festivities and enjoy the moment magnificently.
Dwarkadheesh temple: This Krishna temple is situated in Mathura. It witnesses one of the biggest Holi celebrations in the town. Priests of the temple dust organic colours and flowers on the devotees. The air of the temple gets filled with aromatic colours. Saffron is a mandatory colour to be played with. Otherwise, Holi seems to be incomplete here.
Not only Indians but a large number of foreigners also visit this place to enjoy authentic Holi festivities. There are colours and water all around. If someone is not actively participating in playing Holi here, then also he will feel relaxed, tranquil and happy just by watching the celebration in the temple premises.
Gulal Kund near Govardhan Mountain: This is a sacred lake in the vicinity of Govardhan Mountain in Braj. The re-enactments of Holi can be seen here throughout the year because local boys acting in the Krishna Lila drama troupes re-enact the scenes of Holi for the pilgrims.
People visit here, get drenched in coloured water in the name of Radha-Krishna. This place is worth to be visited on the day of Holi as the crowd swells up here to play with colours. The kund is filled with joyousness and bliss amidst devotees enjoying the festivities.
Dauji temple: Dauji also known as Balram is Shri Krishna’s elder brother. It is Dauji’s temple which is situated 12 kilometres away from Mathura. Holi celebration is quite unique here. It is popularly called as ‘Dauji ka Huranga’. It means more aggressive form of Holi. People gather in Dauji temple premises the next day of Rangwali Holi around 11 AM. The celebration starts with Holi sangeet that is sung to Dauji’s idol. After some basic rituals, the celebration turns wild by 12 noon. People get high on bhang and raas songs can be heard all around.
This is perhaps the only place in the world where the raas features someone else than Krishna. Here men drench the women in coloured water. In response, women also dip them in coloured water. In order to protect themselves, women also tear men’s clothes in a playful manner and try to beat them with the same rags. Dauji ka Huranga marks the end of Holi celebration in Braj Bhoomi.
Mathura is the place where Lord Krishna was born while Vrindavan is where he spent his childhood. Holi celebrations are pretty much a pan-India phenomenon. However, the biggest celebration happens in Mathura and Vrindavan. These are the best places where you can be a part of the true Holi spirit.
Play a safe Holi.
Happy Holi to all!