Lathmar Holi or the Holi with sticks is a festival celebrated in the Baj regions of Uttar Pradesh in the twin towns of Barsana and Nandgaon, also known as the towns of Radha and Krishna respectively. Every year, during Holi, thousands of devotees and tourists visit these towns to celebrate the festival. The festivities usually last for more than a week and end on Rang Panchami or Holi. The festival is a celebration of the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil and is a time for people to come together, dance, sing, and throw coloured powders at each other, creating a vibrant and joyful atmosphere.
Associated with the legend that is linked to the divine couple Radha Krishna, the festival seeks to recreate it. According to the legend, Lord Krishna who was a resident of Nandgaon and is considered the son-in-law of Vrishabhanu wanted to spray the colours on his beloved Radha and her friends. But, as Krishna and his friends entered Barsana, they were playfully greeted with the sticks by Radha and her friends who drove them out of Barsana. Following the same trend, every year on the occasion of Holi, the men of Nandagaon who are treated as sons-in-law of Barsana visit Barsana and are greeted by women with colours and sticks or lathis. The celebration is enacted in perfect good humour by both sides, the men of Nandgaon and the women of Barsana.
The Lathmar Holi festival is a celebration of the power of women and is a unique expression of the region’s rich cultural heritage. During the festival, named after the lath, a wooden stick that is used by women to chase men. The festival is celebrated on the day before the Hindu festival of Holi and is an expression of the love between Radha and Krishna. The women from the town of Barsana chase men from the neighbouring town of Nandgaon with sticks as a symbolic representation of Radha’s playfulness and power. The men, in turn, sing and dance in a show of reverence to Radha.
One of the highlights of the Lathmar Holi festival is the Lathmar Holi Mela, which is a gathering of people from the surrounding towns and villages. The mela is a lively and colourful affair, with stalls selling food, drinks, and handmade goods. There is also a wide range of entertainment available, including music, dance, and theatre performances.
Another important aspect of the Lathmar Holi festival is the traditional dance and music. The Braj region has a rich tradition of music and dance, and the Lathmar Holi festival provides a platform for these traditions to be showcased. The dances performed during the festival are an expression of joy and happiness and are performed by both men and women. The music played during the festival is characterised by its use of traditional instruments such as the dhol, nagara, and manjira.
One of the most unique parts of the Lathmar Holi festival is the ‘Rang Panchami’ ritual. During this ritual, people come together to throw coloured powders at each other, creating a vibrant and joyful atmosphere. The ‘Rang Panchami’ ritual is an important part of the Lathmar Holi festival and is a time for people to come together and celebrate the arrival of spring.
The Lathmar Holi festival is also a time for love and courtship. During the festival, young men and women come together to meet and get to know each other. If two people are interested in each other, they can exchange gifts and formalise their relationship. This exchange of gifts is known as ‘Rasm-e-Holi’ and is an important part of the Lathmar Holi festival.
The Lathmar Holi festival is a celebration of life, love, and joy and a celebration of the rich and diverse culture of the Braj region. It celebrates the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil and is an important part of the cultural heritage of the region.