The women come dressed in their best finery and beautiful saris and try and hit the men with these “lath” or sticks that are big, all most seven feet bamboo sticks.
Legends and Traditions of Lath Mar Holi in BarsanaThe present day tradition had evolved from the legends of Lord Krishna, who visited Radha in her village in Barsana and he teased Radha and her friends. Upon hearing of this, the villager of Barsana gathered and chased Krishna and his friends away and the tradition continues till date.
Every year the men from Krishna’s village, Nandgaon visit Barsana and the local women chase them and try to beat them with the sticks. The men come to visit the temple of Radha and the women try and stop them and beat them in the process but it is all fun and games. The men come prepared for this assault and wear big turbans and carry shields to protect themselves. People pour color water and powder colors on them from balconies and verandas. All this revelry continues amid loud singing of Holi songs and chanting of Lord Krishna and Radha’s name.
The men are chased away by the women and the gopis or young girls and the men do not retaliate.
Various temples have music and devotional songs in the traditional language of ‘braj bhasha’ dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha blaring on loudspeakers announcing an air of merriment, devotion and lots of sweets as Prasad for the devotees. The Radha Raman Mandir is the most famous temple among the various situated in Barsana and the festivities start from this temple and proceed through the town. The lanes and roads of Braj are transformed into streams of color and flowers flying everywhere. The devotees and visitors gather at the temples and Holi is celebrated along with the lords’ worship. The priests of the temples fling colors and water as well as garlands of rose and marigold flowers, all showered on the huge crowds of devotees swaying to the rhythmic chanting of the praise of Radha and Krishna.
The festival is not just about the colors or the stopping of the men by the women with lathis but also reiterating their faith and devotion in Lord Krishna. Holi not only rejoices in color, joy and gaiety but also in faith and devotion.
The rituals of the ancient times are translated into modern day but the essence of Holi remains the same. The blessings of the Lord and coloring oneself in the Lord’s faith draws a huge crowd from all over. Holi celebrations in Braj are renowned for a truly mystical experience along with enjoyment of the most fun filled festival.