Holi Celebrations in Brij
Holi is celebrated all over India but there is something special to it in North India. Holi celebrations in Brij near Mathura provide all these essentials for getting some lovely colorful pictures. Brij Holi is famous for its legendary association to the stories of “Radha & Krishna” & Lathmaar Holi is very unique in this area. Legend is that Krishna was very conscious about his dark complexion especially in relation to Radha who was very fair. Krishna & his friends of Nand Gaon (Krishna’s village) decided to paint Radha & her friends black & blue. Somehow the news was leaked & ladies of Barsana (Radha’s village) beat them up with Laathies (wooden Sticks). Next day people from Barsana visited Nand Gaon & they were given the same treatment. These traditions have followed since then. Nowadays these guys are well cushioned & have a shield to protect them & ladies do not intend to hurt them. The main attraction is coloring – both water & powder (Gulal), music & songs in the local dialect which is very interesting & the dancing is full energy, totally uninhibited. These festivities usually start a week ahead of the actual Holi-day. In Vrindavan instead of colors people shower flower petals on each other. Celebrations continue for about 10 days
I had the privilege of visiting Brij thrice. Festivities here have become very famous & hoards of photographers from all over India descent in Barsana & Nandgaon to catch the action. Not only Indian but photographers from all over the world can be seen clicking the action. Electronic media is also seen in full strength. The lanes & by lanes are full of millions of people although these small towns are very poorly equipped to handle this onslaught. It is almost a situation of a stampede with every possibility of casualties. Watercolors of all varieties & color powder (Gulal) are extensively used. Photographers have real tough time. There is plenty of dust, water & muck all over the area. It is a tough task to protect the camera equipment. Most of the photographers are seen with their cameras covered with plastics & special camera raincoats.
With colored powder & dust in the eyes, water all around & slippery hands it is very difficult to handle the focusing & adjusting the camera. There is much of pushing & jostling to get that perfect shot. Floors & pathways are very slippery & there are all the chances of getting a broken bone. The number of photographers coming to this area is increasing very fast & it is almost impossible to get a frame without some body’s camera or head popping in. These enthusiastic photographers are often seen to obstruct the local ceremonies & often attack any photographable object like a pack of wolves. It becomes a situation like paparazzi around Lady Diana. Photographing Brij Holi is tough & dangerous yet an attractive, colorful & wild challenge.
Unfortunately, visitors, especially if fair skinned or fair sex, are specifically targeted with anything to color them. Ladies particularly have a tough time because of the selective attack. Many intoxicated locals & youngsters from nearby places can be seen targeting the ladies, taking advantage of the festivity mood & the spirit of “Bura naa mano Holi hai”. Nandgaon is about 130 kilometers from Delhi on Agra highway. The events are organized by UP tourism & exact dates can be seen on their website. It is convenient to make Vrindavan as the base camp.
On a day before the main Holi-day (Dulhandi) people collect & stock up wooden sticks for the bonfire at major crossings, parks & other community places & burn the pyre; signifying the burning of Holika. It is a symbolic victory of good over evil. The story is that Prahlad, son of a cruel king Hirnakashyap was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu while his father had declared himself as God. Hirnakashyap was very annoyed with his son so he asked his sister Holika to sit in the pyre with Prahlad. Holika had a gift given by God that she will not get burned. Vishnu made sure that Prahlad escaped unhurt from the fire while Holika was burned to death. Vishnu appeared in the form Narsimhah & killed the devil Hirnakashyap. When the pyre cools down devotees smear their head with pyre ashes & start celebrating with colors, dance & music.
Holi is a free for all carnival of colors & traditional food such as Gujia, mathri & malpuas.
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