Lathmar Holi in Barsana and Nandgaon

Lathmar Holi is celebrated 4-5 days prior to the  Holi festivities of other states. However, it is interesting to note how this festival is celebrated in a rather peculiar way in Nandgaon and Barsana towns in Mathura-district of Uttar Pradesh. The towns are located some 42 kms from Mathura and are extremely popular for the celebrations during Holi.

The natives are known for their interesting way of playing Holi with not only colours but also sticks. Lathmar Holi is a Hindi word that literally translates - 'Lath' means stick, 'mar' means beat and togther they mean playing Holi with stick and colours. Thandai (a sweet drink) and Holi go hand in hand, so don't miss out on it!

Lathmar Holi 2023 Dates

Lathmar Holi will take place around on 1st March in Barsana and on 2nd March in Nandgaon in 2023.

Lathmar Holi in Barsana

This celebration takes place in the Radha Rani temple in Barsana. It is important to note that it is the only temple dedicated to Radha.

Why is Lathmar Holi Celebrated?

Celebration at the Nandgaon Temple
Celebration at the Nandgaon Temple

According to legend, it is believed that Lord Krishna from Nandgaon visited Radha's (his beloved) town in Barsana during Holi. Lord Krishna who was known to be friendly with all the 'Gopis', applied colour on Radha's face in jest. The friends and the elder females of the town, in turn, took offence and drove him out of Barsana, with bamboo sticks. 

Lathmar Holi thus keeps in tune with this tale and is a recreation of this episode from Lord Krishna's Life. Every year, men from Nandgaon visit the town of Barsana and the women there, drive them out, playing with sticks (i.e., lathi) and colours.

How Is Lathmar Holi Celebrated?

Women in Barsana during Lathmar Holi
Women in Barsana during Lathmar Holi

The Lathmar Holi lasts for a week where men and women indulge themselves in colours, songs, dances and of course the lathis!
The men who come from Nandgaon irk the women by singing annoying songs and provoking them. The women play the part of the Gopis and hurl sticks at the men in tunes of fun and frolic. The unlucky men who get into the hands of the women of Barsana are made to wear female dresses and dance in public. The men come fully guarded wearing protective gears to prevent getting hurt and bruised.

The spray of colours adds to the excitement, and the folks remember Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha by chanting 'Shri Krishna' and 'Shri Radhey' The next day the females of Barsana visit Nandgaon and the festivities continue. There is also consumption of a traditional drink named 'Thandai' which made of milk and some herbs.

Holi At Vrindavan

Holi at Vrindavan
Holi at Vrindavan

The Holy celebrations also continue in Vrindavan in the Banke Bihari Temple for over a week where water and Gulal which is colour made out of flowers is used. The idol of Bihariji dressed in white is brought to the devotees to play Holi. People get drenched in water, colours and dance to lively music.

How To Reach the Lathmar Holi Venues?

The nearest Railway Station is Mathura, located at a distance of 12kms from Nandgaon and the nearest Airport is in Delhi (142kms). There are also state buses and taxis available from the nearby cities.

The festival may seem intimidating but it is definitely not. The celebrations are in good spirits and so is the commemoration of the tales associated with the place. There is vibrance and good cheer all around, that depict the true spirits of Mathura. It is one of the biggest festivals of North India that is closely associated with Indian mythology. One must definitely visit Mathura during the festival of Holi to immerse themselves in the wonderful colours of love and happiness.

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