Visitors throng Barsana to witness traditional 'Latmar Holi'
Hindu pilgrims and tourists from India and abroad thronged Barsana town in Uttar Pradesh to witness the rare spectacle of hundreds of village women revellers chasing and beating men with wooden sticks as part of the customary celebrations of the colourful festival of Holi.
The festivities began after men donning colourful turbans and dressed in traditional attire got smeared in herbal colours.
Celebrating a unique age-old tradition, men from neighbouring towns and villages flock to Barsana, geared with shields, and sing provocative songs to invite the attention of women.
The women, draped in vibrant saris, then go on the offensive and use long staves called 'laathis' to beat the men, who protect themselves with shields.
The revellers in traditional costumes sprayed and sprinkled colours at each other during the colourful processions taken out on the streets.
"The festival of 'Lathmar Holi' is celebrated only in Braj, Barsana and Nandgaon and it is a Holi of love. The tradition of playing this unique Holi is centuries old. Legend has it that women used to beat Lord Krishna to chase him away," said a reveller, Bhavesh Goswami.
Legend has it that on this day, Lord Krishna visited the village of his beloved Radha and playfully teased Radha and her friends.
The annual festival has become immensely popular over the years and now draws hundreds of devotees from across the country, along with tourists who flock the town to witness the unique festival.
A visibly thrilled tourist from United States, who witnessed the festival for the first time, said she had never experienced something as exciting as this.
"I am fascinated by it. It's my first Holi and I have a lot of questions about how Holi began to be celebrated. But it is amazing and dazzling to see all the brilliant colours and to hear the drumbeats and to see the pilgrims thronging the temples and the dancing and the festivities and the happiness and the joy,"said a tourist from the United States, Romani.
The festival is celebrated with great zest and enthusiasm as devotees attach much importance to Hindu Lord Krishna, the archetypal figure of romance and revelry.
(Posted on 10-03-2014)