Holi – the celebration of spring, the festival of colors originating in India is the festival that signifies good over evil as well as the welcoming of spring. For many, it is a festive time to meet others, play, laugh, forget and forgive, repair broken bonds and spread happiness and positive vibes.
Different regions in India, as well as the diaspora, like to add their own unique twist to this colorful festival. Lath Mar Holi is a celebration in the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon, which are near Mathura in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. This celebration takes place days before actual Holi.
Lath Mar Holi translates loosely into something like “the hitting sticks Holi ” – A LATH/Lathi is a thick traditional type of stick. Mar (I think it should be spelled in English like MAAR, because Mar means to die) means to hit. You get me..
According to legend, Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s village on this day and playfully teased her and her friends (*insert eye roll* Siiggghhhhhhh!).
The women of Barsana, taking offense to this, chased him away.
Keeping this tradition alive, the men from Nandgaon visit Barsana each year – and each year the women of Barsana await them, Lathi in hand!
The men try to shield themselves as much as they can while the ladies attack them with the sticks – hahahah!
The unlucky ones are captured and then are forced wear female clothing and dance in public. (*I need that one emoji*)
The festivities are held in the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple in Barsana, which is said to be the only temple in the country that is dedicated to Goddess Radha.
Thousands gather to witness the festivities and watch the men get beat up by the women! And let me tell you, like any desi party, the crowd getssssss hysterical, sing Holi Songs and shouting out for their team!! Sri Radha vs Sri Krishna. It’s insane! It’s so insane, the women of Barsana start preparing a month in advance.
Holi is one of the largest festivals in India. In general, it signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring and the end of winter. People typically throw kaleidoscopes of colored powder/water at each other playfully.
Growing up in the US, I have fond memories of DANCE PRACTICE for Holi shows in school and within the community. I used to do choreographed dances on stage for functions, as I think most kids in my generation did.
I hope you have a very kaleidoscopically colorful, joyous Holi – and ladies, please don’t go chasing any men with sticks – you most likely are not in Barsana and we have laws here! 🙂 HAPPY HOLI!