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Holi is a Hindu festival which is celebrated all over the world with lots of colors but every state of India has some unique way of celebrating Holi. In Barsana (75 miles from South Delhi), near Mathura people use to play “lath mar holi”. This holi style represents a way in which people hit each other with a stick. Hitching with a stick is not because of any anger or revenge but it is a kind of some ritual there.
The story behind this ritual is that Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha and playfully teases her and her friends. So for taking offense, women of Barsana chase them away by hitting with a stick. After this story people took it as a ritual and played the holi by following the same ritual. So here the men from the village of Krishna i.e. Nandgaon visit Barsana for playing Holi in the town. This place has a distinction as it has the only temple dedicated to Radha in India.
In the compound of this Radha Rani Temple lots of people across the country gather together to witness the Lath Mar Holi. So here men throw color on women and playfully tease them and women chase them away by playfully beating them with a stick. They celebrate the festival by singing classic Holi songs. Holi songs of Braj Manda are sun in pure Braj language. People also enjoy some representation in which a men act like Lord Krishna and a Women act like Radha Rani.
On the very first day of “lath mar holi” shepherds (gops) from Nandgaon come to Barsana for playing Holi with shepherdesses (gopis) of Barsana. This auspicious festival begins with a great ceremony at Radha Rani temple. After this ceremony, gops march out towards Rang Rangeeli Gali where they play holi with gopis who wait there for gops by standing in groups. On the second day, gops from Barsana visit Nandgaon for playing holi with the gopis of Nandgaon.
The way of playing holi in barsana is unique as women chase men away by using sticks. Males also sing provocated songs to catch the attention of women. Women then goes on offence and use a long stick (lathi) to beat men folk which protect themselves by using shields.
In the interval holi participants take the pleasure of THANDAI, it is a type of cold drink which is little intoxicant because it is mixed with a special paste called bhang which is made up of cannabis. Holi and Bhang go together because after drinking bhang people reach in a different way. People after drink bhang crave for sweets, some of them laugh a lot and most of them cry cry and cry…. J It is a very ecstatic experience which is highlighted with revelry. Basically holi is a great way to de-stress and bond.
You want to take the real fun of Holi then do visit Nandgaon and Barsana as here the taste of Holi is unique. And I am sure that if you will visit once then you will visit here again and again for taking the pleasure of Holi.