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Lath Mar Holi

Monday, 03 October 2016 14:24

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Barsana, a town near Mathura in Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, celebrates Lath mar Holi in the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple. Thousands gather to witness the Lath Mar holi when women beat..

Barsana, a town near Mathura in Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, celebrates Lath mar Holi in the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple. Thousands gather to witness the Lath Mar holi when women beat up men with sticks as those on the sidelines become hysterical, sing Holi Songs and shout Sri Radhey or Sri Krishna. The Holi songs of Braj mandal are sung in pure Braj, the local language. Holi celebrated at Barsana is unique in the sense that here women chase men away with sticks. Males also sing provocative songs 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.
Mathura, in the Braj region, is the birthplace of Lord Krishna, and in Vrindavan this day is celebrated with special puja and the traditional custom of worshipping Lord Krishna, here the festival lasts for sixteen days. All over the Braj region and its nearby places like Hathras, Aligarh, Agra the Holi is celebrated in more or less same way as in Mathura, Vrindavanand Barsana.
Outside Braj, in Kanpur area, Holi lasts seven days with colour. On the last day, a grand fair called Ganga Mela or the Holi Mela is celebrated. This Mela was started by freedom fighters who fought British rule in the First Indian War of Independence in 1857 under the leadership of Nana Saheb. The Mela is held at various Ghats along the banks of RiverGanga in Kanpur, to celebrate Hindus and the Muslims who together resisted the British forces in the city in 1857. On the eve of Ganga Mela, all Government offices, shops, Courts generally remain closed. The Ganga Mela marks the official end of "The Festival of Colours" or Holi in Kanpur.
In Gorakhpur, the northeast district of Uttar Pradesh, this day starts with a special puja in the morning of Holi day. This day is considered to be the most colourful day of the year promoting the brotherhood among the people. This is known as "Holi Milan" in which people visit every house and sing holi song and express their gratitude by applying coloured powder (Abeer). Holi is also considered as the beginning of the year as it occurs on the first day of new Hindu calendar year (Panchang).

Holi played at Barsana is unique in the sense that here women chase men away with sticks. Males also sing provocative songs 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.
During intervals, participants sip 'thandai', a cold drink that is sometime intoxicating because it is laced with a paste calledbhang, made of cannabis. Bhang and Holi go together. After drinking bhang, people react in different ways, some crave for sweets, others cry or laugh. It is an ecstatic experience, which is heightened by the revelry. It is a great way to de-stress and bond.
The women of Barsana start preparing a month in advance. The mother-in-laws feed their daughters-in-law rich food so that they show off their prowess on the Holi battle zone. It is a show of love, fun and equality.

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