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Holi, the Festival of Colours has been celebrated in India since thousands of years and is now also celebrated by various communities of South Asia including non-Hindu communities.
While Holi is celebrated in almost every part of India, Holi in Braj is especially famous. Braj is a historical region which covers the area of Mathura, Vrindavan,Barsana,Nandgaon and some nearby areas. Holi here attacts tourists and pilgrims from all over the world because of it’s special customs and traditions. Mathura is the birth-place of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan is the place where he grew up in his childhood.
When Krishna was young, he cribbed to his mother about Radha (his friend) being fair while Krishna himself was dark complexioned. His mother (Yashoda) suggested him to colour Radha with colors in a playful manner. Over the years, Krishna from his village Nandgaon used to go to Barsana (Radha’s village) to color Radha and other Gopis. They also used to playfully beat him with sticks. And hence the tradition evolved.
According to the legend, menfolk from Nandgaon visit Barsana to celebrate ‘Holi’ with women from Barsana. When these people come visiting, they are welcomed by these women with sticks and are beaten up. The bunch from Nandgaon comes well prepared for it, with a padded shield to counter the attacks. These sticks are called ‘lathths’, hence this holi-celebration is famously known as ‘Laththmaar’ holi.
Next day, the women from Barsana (since the women don’t go, men and trans-genders dressed as women represent women from the village) go to Nandgaon to celebrate Holi with the men from the village. They are welcomed with water and colour everywhere, but the main event takes place in the courtyard of the temple at Nandgaon. This event marks the highlight of the holi celebration at Nandgaon. During the celebrations at the temple courtyard, people from both the villages sit across each other singing, dancing and conversing and this meet-up is termed as ‘samaaj’.
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