Lathmar Holi celebrations recreate a Hindu legend
The ancient Hindu festival Holi was celebrated on Sunday, March 28, 2021, and Monday, March 29, 2021.
Also known as the ‘Festival of Colours’, Holi celebrates the love of Hindu Gods Radha and Krishna.
However, one particular celebration began on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 – Lathmar Holi.
Lathmar Holi is a festival of sticks and colours and is predominantly celebrated in the town of Barsana, Uttar Pradesh.
The celebration takes place at the Radha Rani temple in Barsana, which is said to be the only one in India that is dedicated to Radha.
Those participating in the festival immerse themselves in colour, and sing and dance while the women hit the men with sticks.
Lathmar Holi 2021 celebrations were also captured on social media.
Women in Barsana, #India, ‘stick it’ to the men during the Lathmar ritual, which translates to ‘stick beat’. Men crouch under makeshift shields, singing lewd songs and throwing bad pickup lines at local women, who retaliate by beating them over the head with wooden sticks. pic.twitter.com/sjYzRjTnvV
— RT (@RT_com) March 26, 2021
In a video uploaded to Twitter on Friday, March 26, 2021, the women retaliate to the chants of men in Barsana by hitting them with sticks.
In what can only be described as a ‘distinct’ Holi celebration, the women of Barsana follow an ancient Lathmar ritual and quite literally ‘stick it’ to the men.
But why do they do it?
Why is Lathmar Holi Celebrated?
Lathmar Holi celebrations recreate a Hindu legend, which tells the story of the Hindu God Krishna and his beloved Radha.
Krishna, who hailed from Nandgaon, travelled to Barsana to see his love interest Radha.
However, according to the legend, Krishna would tease Radha and her friends and make inappropriate advances.
Radha and her friends, who were gopis (female shepherds), retaliated and drove Krishna out of Barsana with sticks.
The tradition has been annually revived ever since.
How Lathmar Holi is Celebrated Today?
Recreating the age-old tale, each Lathmar Holi (Lathmar meaning ‘stick beat’) sees the men from Nandgaon visit the town of Barsana.
The women, wearing colourful saris pulled low over their faces, greet the men with large wooden sticks.
In return, the men shout provocative statements while crouching under makeshift shields.
The women retaliate by continuously hitting the men with the sticks, while they shield themselves from the blows as much as they can.
The Lathmar Holi festivities last for more than a week.
Participants of the celebrations also dance, sing and cover themselves in colour.
The traditional drink thandai also makes a common appearance at Lathmar Holi celebrations.
People of all genders, classes and castes travel to Barsana in their thousands to partake in the unique festivities.
Despite the slightly darker context surrounding the festival, the celebration of Lathmar Holi is bright and all-inclusive.