India is a country of diversity, rich heritage, cultures, tradition, and people with different languages. Even with such a variety of its culture and people, there is something which binds them together. If we try to find out what is that thing we will find that the “festivals” celebrated in India binds them. Festivals in India have a lesson, a message and a reason that bring people of all religion and traditions together.
Festivals bring along with them a legacy which is passed on to the next generation. All festivals have something in common like – enthusiasm, the fun, brotherhood, victory over evil, honesty, purity, belief in the almighty, respect for elders, and tales of GODs and GODDESS. There are others which are unique in nature and their celebrations like the world famous – Lathmar Holi of Barsana.
The name itself tells about the way it is celebrated; “Lath” means – thick Stick, and “Lathmar” means – hitting with a thick stick. People are hit with lath few days before the festival of colors- “Holi”. The festival is celebrated in the two neighboring towns of – Barsana and Nandgaon, 30 kms from the Holi city of – Mathura.
The legend has it that Goddess Radha was visited by Lord Krishna, in her village – Barsana, this day and he teased her and her friends. In return, he was chased him away of the village, by them. This tradition is followed every year by the people of Barsana and Nandgaon.
The male and females are called “Gops” (Shepherds) and “Gopis” (Shepherdesses) on this day. On the first day after a small ceremony/ Puja at the “Radha Rani Temple” at Barsana, the only temple in India dedicated to Goddess Radha, men from Nandgaon, play Holi with the women of Barsana. The same is played at “Rang Rangeeli Gali”, witnessed by the localities and tourists from India and abroad.
The men are chased away with thick sticks by the females. The males even sing provocative folk songs to tease them. Women then go offensive and hit them with sticks. The men do not run away, instead, they stay there and protect themselves with shields. In intervals the men drink or Sip “Thandai”- a cold drink which has milk as a base and a paste of cannabis leaves are mixed in it.
The second day the same is repeated when Gops from Barsana go to Nandgaon and tease the Gopis of Nandgaon. It is very interesting to know that in spite of hard hitting by the ladies nobody gets injured or wounded. The whole atmosphere is full of fun and colors. The preparation for this festival starts a month ahead and is enjoyed by all. The festival brings with it love, affection, color, and equality. It brings people close to each other and the lesson of impartiality and non-discrimination. It also brings us close to Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha.
Such is the power of Indian festivals that with fun and entertainment it leaves some message for everyone, be it Indians or foreigners.
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