Want to know how you can make your Braj Ki Holi – celebrations in Mathura and Vrindavan memorable in 2021? Read on!
The festival of colours is almost here! The sweet taste of homecoming, balloons filled with colours and not air, the gala feast with family – Holi holds a special place in all our hearts. And if you are wondering how you could celebrate it differently this year, then this blog is for you! Read on to find out about this unique custom of celebrating Holi in the heart of North India.
We are talking about the land of Lord Krishna – Mathura and Vrindavan. Holi in Mathura is a great experience for anyone who loves this festival. The colours and the madness make it beautiful and fun for its visitors. The celebrations continue in Vrindavan and nearby areas making it an exciting event that lasts for over a week. Holi in Vrindavan, Mathura, Nandgaon, Barsana and other local areas are popularly known as Braj Ki Holi.
Braj is the region that covers Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandgaon and Barsana. Each lane of these places has stories of Lord Krishna and his divine love story with Radha. Lord Krishna was born in Mathura and spent his childhood in Vrindavan. While his beloved, Radha was from Barsana.
Devotees visit these towns throughout the year to sing along the bhajans and recall the mischievous stories of Lord Krishna. However, these pilgrim towns see a massive surge in tourists during the festive season of Holi.
The origin tale of Braj ki Holi
The legend goes like this – as a kid, Krishna often complained to his mother, Yashodha, about his dark complexion. Radha, on the other hand, was fair. Envious of her fairness, he used to throw colors at Radha so as to balance out each other’s skin tones. Krishna, along with his friends, used to visit Barsana from his village, Nandgaon to playfully put colours on Radha and her friends. The women offended by the act, drove them out of the town using sticks or Lathis.
Today, the people of Barsana, recreate this tale by celebrating it as ‘Lathmar Holi’. Men of Nandgaon visit Barsana during Holi while the women hurl sticks at them. The men protect themselves from being hit by using shields. To add to the fun, some of the men dress up as women to avoid being hurled at. Locals take all the necessary safety precautions to ensure that no one gets hurt. People sing the popular folk songs and dance to perform the age-old traditional stories.
The celebrations in Barsana are followed by similar festivities in Nandgaon the next day. After a day of immersing in the colours of Nandgaon, Vridanvan is the next stop for devotees. The Banke-Bihari Temple in Vrindavan hosts a week-long Holi celebration. People play with organic colours or gulaal, flowers and kesar. Devotees dance to the bhajans and distribute sweets and dry fruits as gifts to each other. You would hear chants of ‘Shri Radha’ and ‘Shri Krishna’ everywhere around while devotees enjoy themselves by drinking the traditional Braj ki Holi drink – Thandai.
Holi Celebrations at different places of Mathura and Vrindavan:
Banke Bihari temple, Vrindavan – Visit Banke Bihari Temple on 25th March 2021 to play Holi with colourful flowers, popularly known as Phoolwaalon ki Holi. Devotees near the temple premises come together to play with flower petals. The sight on this day is a treat for the eyes! Catch this unique celebration that lasts for about 30 minutes. Visit the temple around 4 pm to be a part of the celebrations.
Vishram Ghat, Mathura – The Holi procession takes place in Vishram Ghat. During this, young boys and girls dress up as Lord Krishna and Radha to sit on vehicles accompanying the group of devotees taking part in the procession. People sing and dance while being drenched in colours. The procession starts around 3 pm from Vishram Ghat.
Huranga – Head to Huranga which is about 30 km from Mathura, after the day of Holi. The festivities here start at around 12:30. Expect a crazy celebration near Daoji temple as men are not only beaten to imitate Lathmar Holi but also stripped! You might get a chance to jump in the temple pond of colours when you are here!
Holi Dates in Mathura & Vrindavan 2021 and Full Calendar
|22 March 2021, Monday||Barsana Holi|
|23 March 2021, Tuesday||Barsana Holi : Lathmar Holi|
|24 March 2021, Wednesday||Nandgaon Holi|
|25 March 2021, Thursday||Vrindavan Holi: Phoolwalon Ki Holi in Bankey Bihari Temple|
|25 March 2021, Thursday||Mathura Holi|
|26 March 2021, Friday||Gokul Holi|
|27 March 2021, Saturday||Widows’ Holi in Vrindavan|
|28 March 2021, Sunday||Holika Dahan – Banke Bihari temple and Mathura Vishram Ghat|
|29 March 2021, Monday||Dhulandi Holi|
Holi celebration in Braj
Things to do
Shun taboo at Pagal Baba Widow Ashram – Visit this ashram during Holi as widowed women play with colours as opposed to the age-old traditional belief that widows shouldn’t wear colours. This is a strong and progressive step towards a brighter future for women.
Shop at the local stores – Handmade jewellery, idols and accessories – you will find plenty of antique pieces in the markets of Mathura and Vrindavan. When in Mathura, shop from Holygate, Lal Bazaar and Krishnanagar Market. The local shops are adorned in the Holi theme!
Give your tastebuds a treat – Try the lip-smacking street food of Braj. Chaat, Samosa, Kachori are the famous snacks around the place. Make sure to taste the popular Makhan-Mishri outside any of the major temples!
Braj Bhoomi: The land of Lord Shri Krishna
Braj Bhoomi is the holy land of Lord Krishna. According to mythological tales, the regions of Braj is where Lord Krishna grew up. Some of the popular locations of Braj Bhoomi are –
Maan Mandir – This temple is located at the hilltop of Maan Garh. According to the tales, this was the place where Lord Krishna persuaded his beloved Radha when she got angry with him. Visit during the early morning hours or late evenings to experience the divine prayers in the temple. Take a part in their Daily Prasad Seva, where devotees distribute the ‘prasad’. Hear the locals tell you the divine love story of Lord Krishna and buy souvenirs to take a part of the holy land home.
Mor Kutir Mandir – Another temple dedicated to the love of Radha-Krishna, the holy Mor Kutir Mandir experiences heavy footfalls of devotees all throughout the year. You will spot many peacocks on the premises. It is said that the peacocks come together to celebrate the love of Radha and Krishna. The shops nearby are famous for their hand-woven materials and sarees.
Rangeeli Mahal – Founded in 1996, Rangeeli Mahal is one of the major attractions of Barsana. The premises of the palace is embellished with colourful gardens and serene waterfalls. It is said that this was the place where Radha lived about 5,000 years ago. Don’t forget to visit Kirti Mandir, dedicated to the glory of Radha, which is very close to Rangeeli Mahal. Outside the palace, try the famous chaat of Barsana at Shri Radha Chaat Bhandar Shop.
Nand Bhavan – Nand Bhavan is the only place where Nand and Yashoda, the foster parents of Lord Krishna are worshipped. The temple is located at the top of the Nandishwar Hills. The temple is also called Chaurasi Khamba temple because of the 84 pillars that support the temple. The number 84 signifies the 84,00,000 species of life that exists in the world according to Hindu scriptures.
Popular food of Braj Bhoomi
When you are in Braj, you should definitely try the ‘Bhog’ served in temples across towns. ‘Mathura ke Pede’ is a famous sweet prepared from milk, khoya and cardamon. You can find this sweet everywhere in Mathura. Other food items that you just can’t miss are – Chana Chiwda, Moong Dal ke Pakode, Kachori Sabzi and Jalebi, Malai Lassi and Thandai.
How to reach
Be a part of the Braj Ki Holi celebrations this year! Barsana-Nandgaon is only 12 km from Mathura. Here are all the ways you can reach these places –
By Air: Agra Airport is the closest airport which is at a distance of about 60 km from Mathura. You may also travel to Mathura by taking a flight to Delhi. Delhi International airport is almost 172 km away. You book a cab from Delhi airport which can then ferry you to all the areas of the Braj region.
By Rail: Mathura is well-connected with the major cities via rail. The closest railway station is in Mathura.
By Road: The holy pilgrimage of the Braj region is well-connected with roads. You can simply book a taxi to travel to Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandgaon and Barsana from any major city.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is Braj and Vrindavan the same?
Braj is referred to as a region surrounding Mathura-Vrindavan and nearby areas. The region covers areas on both sides of the Yamuna river and is connected to the holy tale of Krishna, the Hindu legend who was born in Mathura and grew up around Vrindavan and nearby places. If one were to measure the distance, then it is located 150 km south of Delhi and 50 km northwest of Agra.
- How is Holi celebrated in Mathura?
The Holi celebration in Mathura is unlike any other place. You will find people coming out on the streets at 10 am and start playing with the colours. People throw colours of all forms at each other and share sweets with each other. The Holi celebration in Braj is also concluded in Mathura. The Holi procession occurs at Vishram Ghat and is a treat for devotees. People play dhols and dance to celebrate the festival.
- What is Braj Holi?
Braj Holi is the festival of colours being celebrated in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh. The history of Braj Holi is related to the legend of Krishna. The residents of Braj (places that cover Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, Nandagaon, Barsana and other nearby areas) come together to celebrate the festival in many different ways. Whether it is Lathmaar Holi in Barsana or the Phool Wali Holi in Vrindavan, Braj Ki Holi is an experience of a lifetime.
- Is Mathura safe for females?
Yes, Mathura is safe for females. There are police constables assigned at all major areas of celebrations. One can avail their help anytime they need it. However, the locals advise women to stay with their group and not be alone in crowded areas.
- Why is Lathmar Holi celebrated?
Lathmaar Holi is celebrated to enact the act of ‘nok-jhok’ in love. The legend goes like this – Lord Krishna used to visit Barsana, his lover Radha’s town and tease her friends. Offended by the act, the females once drove him out of their town using Lathis or sticks. Today, Lathmaar Holi is celebrated to enact this tale.
- How many days Holi is celebrated in Mathura?
The celebrations last in Braj for 6-9 days. Different celebrations occur in various parts of Braj Bhoomi on different days within this time period.