Holi – the annual Indian festival of colour – is still a couple of days away, but colour is already running riot in pockets of India’s heartland.
The festival is already underway in Barsana, Nandgaon and Vrindavan of Uttar Pradesh. The three are part of Braj Bhoomi – the land where according to mythology, Hindu God Krishna spent his childhood and grew up. He is said to have been advised by his mother to smear his consort, Radha, with the colour of his choice, after he grew jealous of her fair complexion.
What began as a child’s play has become a celebration of love and reconciliation.
Celebrations start in Barsana a week before the actual Holi. Villagers from Nandgaon join in the fun and there is great festivity. Women chase the men playfully with sticks, giving the occasion also the name of Lathmar (hitting with sticks) Holi. The show then moves on to Vrindavan on the banks of River Yamuna, and a spectacle unfolds.