Holi is a major Indian festival in the Hindu calendar, which is celebrated across India, but there is a sweet twist to it when you come to the ‘Hindi Heartland’ of India, and that is in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Here, in Barsana (Mathura) and Vrindavan – one being the birthplace of Lord Shree Krishna, and the other one being the growing-up place, Holi is celebrated in a unique and traditional way. The color aspect is always visible, which is indispensable, but apart from that, there is one more aspect that makes Vrindavan’s Holi, a completely different platter altogether. Here, the women folk (girls and elderly ladies) dressed as ‘Gopis’, come out on the streets with a laathi (thick stick), and hit on the head of boys that have a strong protective cover placed on their head. This unique traditional ritual depicts the Holi that Lord Krishna played with the girls or ‘sakhas’ of Vrindavan in his adolescent days, and got hit softly by the Gopis or Sakhas. This tradition continues till date, and the men folk imitating or emulating as Lord Krishna, gets hit by the Sakhas (friends) with a stick on their head. This style of Holi celebration is completely different and unique, from what you witness in other parts of India. The women folk are dressed in colorful sarees, especially in bright colors like red, orange, pink and yellow; that make the overall ambiance even more colorful.
Color Color Everywhere
Once you set foot on the streets of Barsana (Mathura) and Vrindavan during the day of Holi festival, you witness a riot of colors in the air. Not just colors, it is fresh flower petals as well, that is used to play this festival of colors, here in the state of Uttar Pradesh. But it is Vrindavan – the leela sthali (activity place) of the Lord, that gets a different makeover. From a quaint little town, to a bustling, vibrant and colorful place where everyone gets painted in the colors of love and warmth. It’s a splash of colors on the streets, on the attires, on the walls and even on the trees; with shades of pink, yellow, saffron and red everywhere. The women wearing colorful silk sarees come out on the streets with Lath or Laathi (bamboo sticks) in their hands to emulate the role played by Gopis during the time or era of Lord Krishna. This is a spectacle of some sort that travelers from abroad witness with awe and surprise. Not everywhere in India you witness such a grand show of colors, flavors and music that is sure to generate a sense of pure devotional joy and unadulterated happiness. You can literally smell color everywhere. This is India at its best, with a splash of colors and traditional rituals.