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Indian culture is well- known for its diverse and enthusiasm filled festivals. Holi, the festival of colours is one such festival which is famous not only in India but in other countries as well. Holi festival is celebrated in the month of March every year with great zeal and excitement. It is celebrated according to the Hindu lunar calendar and the date varies every time. This year it will be observed on March 28 (Holika Dahan) and March 29 (Dhuleti).
Given the diversity of India, Holi is celebrated in different manners in various states and one of the most significant is the Lathmar Holi.
A local variation of Holi, lathmar Holi or the ‘festival of sticks and colours‘ is celebrated in the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon, near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.
Why is Lathmar Holi celebrated?
Lathmar Holi is a reenactment of a mythological event in which Krishna was chased away with sticks playfully by Radha and other Gopis when he visited Barsana, the birthplace of Radha, in order to provoke her. The men go to Barsana in groups to tease women by singing provocative songs and throwing colours. The women then beat them up with sticks. If a man is caught by a woman, he is forced to wear female attire and dance.
The festival is celebrated in Radha Rani temple, the only temple dedicated to Radha in India. People gather in the temple compound in the famous narrow lane in front called Rang Rangeeli Gali. Folk songs are sung while women dance. The sweet shops are catered with various delicacies especially thandai, formed from bhang. These fun activities last for over a week. This year it will be observed on March 23 in Barsana and march 24 in Nandgaon.
Covid-19’s impact on Lathmar Holi
The global pandemic (COVID-19) which came to India last Holi is still spreading actively. Though the government has not issued any official guidelines as of now, a normal celebration of the festival is not possible as it would be too risky and unreasonable. Thus, given the current situation, it would be wise to skip Holi. However, people who don’t want to miss the festival can still celebrate it by sticking to certain precautions.
Large groups must be avoided and celebrations can be done among small groups of family members or close friends. People who are sick or have any symptoms of coronavirus must be avoided. Masks and sanitisers must be used by everyone. Holi should be played with dry colours instead of water.
Everyone can enjoy the festival with precautions.
Wish you a safe and happy Holi.