(Last Updated on : 12/03/2014)
Lath Mar Holi, observed in Barsana town near Mathura
in Uttar Pradesh
, is a local celebration of the Indian festival Holi
. It is in fact celebrated some days before Holi. The festival is unique for its ritual in which people hit with sticks, as the name suggests. During Lath Mar Holi a sea of devotees and visitors gather in the vast campus of the Radha Rani temple in Barsana for witnessing the celebrations in which women beat up men with sticks. Other people, gripped in deep devotion, shout Sri Radhey or Sri Krishna and sing Holi Songs. The songs are usually sung in pure Braj Bhasha
Mythology of Lath Mar Holi
As per mythology, it is believed that on this day Lord Krishna
visited the village of Radha
, his beloved, and teased her and her friends playfully. Offended, the women of Barsana thus chased him away. Since then, the men belonging to Nandgaon
, Lord Krishna's village, visit the town for playing Holi. Barsana is famed for having the only temple in India which is dedicated to Radha.
Features of Lath Mar Holi
Lath Mar Holi begins with the arrival of 'gops' or shepherds, hailing from Nandgaon, to Barsana for playing Holi along with the 'gopis' of the town. A ceremony at the Radha Rani temple marks the beginning of the festivity. Following the ceremony the gops march out of the temple and reach the Rang Rangeeli Gali for playing Holi with the group of gopis on the street. On the second day of Lath Mar Holi gops form Barsana reach Nandgaon for playing with the gopis of Nandgaon. The uniqueness of the festival lies in the ritual of chasing of the men by the women with sticks. For attracting the attention of women provocative songs are also sung by the men. This offends the women as per the ritual and they beat men with long staves known as 'lathis' and the men use shields to defend themselves.
Bhang and Holi always go together and it also forms a part of the celebration of Lath Mar Holi. During intervals 'thandai', a sort of cold drink is sipped by the participants which is sometimes mixed with the intoxicating paste of Bhang, prepared from cannabis. During Lath Mar Holi the ambience is filled with the fragrance of flowers and perfume. The pilgrims are showered with coloured powder and rose
petals when they visit the temple to pay their homage to the deity sitting on the throne of flowers. The preparations for the event start a month before. Embraced by love, fun and equality, Lath Mar Holi is one of the most enjoyable festivals of the region.