There are many stories surrounding Holi. While nobody really is sure about its origins, the Brajvasis aka residents from Mathura wastes no time in delving into the details and has adopted the festival with such fervour, that its celebrations have become synonymous with the city’s name.
Mathura, also known as Braj Bhoomi, is one of the seven sacred cities considered Holi by Hinduism. The city is known widely for being the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The city has a unique culture that the residents take immense pride in and Holi is one of the many ways of expressing the rich culture of the Brajvasis.
Holi began to be celebrated as a mark of the victory of good over evil when Holika— the evil sister of King Hiranyakashipu was killed on a pyre and people smeared their faces with the ash to celebrate. In the Braj region, however, people celebrate Holi to mark Krishna’s love for Radha since Krishna is believed to have been born and brought up there. Many other regions also consider Holi to be a transition from winter to spring.
People from all walks of life plan well in advance and flock to Mathura to witness the biggest Holi celebration in the country. There are different kinds of rituals surrounding Holi in Braj. Famous ones are Laddoo Mar Holi where laddoo is flung along with colours on everyone, the Lath Mar Holi in Barsana when men are beaten up with sticks by the women and the last day where its generally peaceful and offerings are made to Lord Shiva. Amongst other things, drinks laced with cannabis (bhaang), the exchange of a variety of sweet goodies between near and dear ones along with drenching them with colours are important factors that make Holi a festival of colours and something to look forward to the entire year.
Let’s journey through the streets of Mathura with Ganesh Bagal, who always manages to capture the colours of Mathura with elan.
Do these pictures make you want to book your tickets and get some of these shots for yourself? Well, you can always head to Mathura this March and see the splendour for yourself!
Words by Mohana Ganguly– Content Writer at GoodShotz who day dreams about her next trip when she isn’t penning down her thoughts.