Why Lathmar Holi celebrated in Barsana?

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Photo of Why Lathmar Holi celebrated in Barsana? by Nishant Tyagi

Why do women beat men with sticks during this peculiar Holi celebration?

Photo of Barsana, Uttar Pradesh, India by Nishant Tyagi

With the festival of Holi around the corner, the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon have already smeared themselves in the colours of Lathmar Holi.

What literally translates to a festival of sticks and colours, Lathmar Holi lives up to every bit of its name. It will not be wrong to say that Lathmar Holi festivities in the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon, located near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, are the highlights for the towns that are said to be associated with a Hindu legend related to Lord Krishna and Radha.

Photo of Why Lathmar Holi celebrated in Barsana? by Nishant Tyagi

So, why is Lathmar Holi celebrated, after all?

The festival is said to be a recreation of a famous Hindu legend, according to which, Lord Krishna (who hailed from Nandgaon village) visited his beloved Radha's town, Barsana. If legend is to be believed, Krishna teased Radha and her friends, who in turn responded by taking offence at his advances and driving him out of Barsana.

Photo of Why Lathmar Holi celebrated in Barsana? by Nishant Tyagi

Keeping in tune with the legend, the men from Nandgaon visit the town of Barsana every year, only to be greeted by sticks (aka lathi) of the women there. The ladies hurl sticks at the men, who try to shield themselves as much as they can.

The unlucky ones are captured by the enthusiastic women who then, make the men wear female clothing and dance in public. The festivities take place at the sprawling campus of the Radha Rani temple in Barsana, which is said to be the only temple in the country that is dedicated to Radha.

The Lathmar Holi festivities last for over a week, where the participants dance, sing and immerse themselves in colour alongside the occasional consumption of thandai--a traditional drink synonymous with the festival of Holi.

Photo of Why Lathmar Holi celebrated in Barsana? by Nishant Tyagi
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