Strange Festivities in the City of Barsana

Seldom heard the city of Barsana in Uttar Pradesh enjoys the luxury of coming to the limelight on the vibrant festival of ‘Holi’. Known as the festival of colours, on Holi, Barsana gets to be the hub and the festival is called here as ‘Lathmaar Holi.’ Not music to the ears?

Here’s the history. The birthplace of Lord Krishna’s beloved Radha, Barsana, celebrates Holi with extreme enthusiasm as Krishna was famous for playing pranks on Radha and her female friends. In fact, it was Krishna who started the tradition of this gambol and caper play of colours by first applying colour to Radha’s face.

After thousands of centuries still, it seems like the Womenfolk, of Barsana, want to take sweet revenge for that prank Krishna. Even men have not left their mischief and are still eager to apply colour to the women of Barsana. Men from Nandgaon, Krishna’s birthplace, come to play Holi with the women of Barsana but are instead greeted with sticks. Males also sing provocative songs in the Braj language, in a bid to invite the attention of women. Women then go on the offensive and use long staves called ‘lathis’ to beat men folk who protect themselves with shields.

Completely aware of what welcome awaits them in Barsana, men come fully padded and try their best to escape from the spirited women. Men are not supposed to retaliate on the day. The unlucky ones have forcefully led away and get a good thrashing from the women. Further, they are made to wear female attire and dance in public, all in the spirit of Holi.

The next day, it is the turn of the men of Barsana. They reciprocate by invading Nandgaon and drenching the womenfolk of Nandgaon in colours of ‘kesudo’ – a kind of flower from which colour is made, naturally occurring orange-red dye and colour made from the flower, Palash. On this day, the women of Nandgaon beat the invaders from Barsana. These playful mocking festivities take place well before the actual Holi in town

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