Holi 2017 in Vrindavan: An Age-Old Spirit Continues…
Holi, as a festival of colours, is celebrated passionately in India, with great fervour. It is a festival, that heralds the starting of spring season, the one which brings joy, playful mood, music, dance, vibrancy in the overall atmosphere along with an intent to savour some great food specialties like “Bhaang”. Apart having spent mostly all the Holi festivals in a very very ordinary manner – I was never really an advocate of too much of celebrations on any occasion – I decided that Holi 2017 will be different, to be enjoyed fully, not just by playing but visiting where it is enjoyed the most and in a unique manner. Undoubtedly, the place that struck me was Mathura & Vrindavan.
Now since I stay in Mumbai, I realized the best way to reach Mathura or Vrindavan is to choose from unlimited Mumbai to Delhi flights and then take a train from either New Delhi Railway Station or Hazrat Nizamuddin Station to Vrindavan. The whole journey takes less than 6 hours in total. Pretty fast, isn’t it ?
Brief History of How It All Began
Mathura and Vrindavan, being the land of Lord Krishna and his love interest Radha, are known as the origin of this festival. The legend has it that as a dark-complexioned kid, Krishna cribbed to his mother Yashoda about the fair skin of Radha. The mother advised Krishna to go to Radha’s village Barsana & apply some colour on her. So Krishna & his gang of friends set out from their village Nandgaon to Barsana – about 50 kms from Mathura – to apply colour on Radha & her female friends. In turn, the girls playfully beat up the boys with sticks. This is how it started and is being continued till date. There are a series of events organized here, starting from Lathmaar Holi, Phoolonwali Holi, and Widows Holi, before we come down to the event celebrated in Vrindavan, one day prior to the main Holi Festival in Mathura.
Holi 2017 at Baakein Bihari Temple Vrindavan
For Holi 2017, the last day (13th March 2017) is the main festival at Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura. One day prior the celebrations take place in Baakein Bihari Temple of Vrindavan. After having checked-in my budget hotel early morning on 12th March, I was restless to head to Vrindavan. All hotels, guest houses, dormitories, Ashrams everything was jam packed with tourists. Fortunately, I got along with 2 other cool guys Tarun Paliwal & Saurabh Ghodmare from Bhopal (India) and we three decided to stay put in a single room. Good to know eachother and it saves money as well !
By around 10 am, we reached Vrindavan. From the place where we alighted from Auto Rickshaw, the street looked deserted. However, as we went closer & closer, a lot of people could be found coming in from all directions. The chants of “Radhe Radhe” could be heard in unison. Have a look at the crowd and some of the narrow streets to this Baakein Bihari Temple:
Considering the sheer number of people visiting during this time, you certainly don’t need any extra effort to enter the temple. Just get in the crowd and you shall be automatically transported. May be similar to the Incredible Mumbai Local Trains. But this is not all. The inside view of the temple is even more vibrant. Apart from “Radhe, Radhe”, you will also get to hear “Haathi Ghoda Palkhi, Jai Kanhaiya Lal Ki” slogan… If you can manage to ignore the pushing around by people, you get to seek a divine experience.
Here it is a Dry Holi, meaning there is no water used. It’s only colour powder.
Points To Note
- Holi at Vrindavan, irrespective of the huge crowd, is still reasonably well behaved, since it is for “outsiders” meaning tourists. The next day’s Holi with water balloons gets way more rowdy, where people may tear eachother’s clothes.
- For professional photographers / bloggers etc, there is a balcony on the first floor to click photos. Entry to common people is not given, unless there is a prior appointment or on if you are lucky. Have a word with the Manager of the Trust.
- The function is usually from 10.00 am to 1.30 pm. Post this, the crowd starts to disperse.
- There is a beautiful lake called Gulaal Kund near Govardhan area, where local artists perform Krishna Leela act – is a fun to watch.
- In Mathura on the same day, Holi is celebrated in more traditional style near the vicinity of Holigate, including burning of the wood after performing Pooja around late evening.
- Although I would have liked females to roam free and amongst the crowd, I can’t suggest the same to them as of the moment. The disappointing part about this Holi 2017 celebration was the fact that there were hoards of men, who I saw touching women anywhere they liked, under the pretext of celebrating Holi. As they say, “Bura na maano Holi hai (Don’t mind, its Holi)” – No, that’s not fair, that’s not right. The boys need to restrain themselves.
- Camera protection is mandatory. You cannot underestimate anybody. People around may be extremely stupid to throw colours on your lenses during Holi. Happened with me.
How To Reach
- Nearest airport is Delhi, which is about 125 kms.
- Mathura & Vrindavan are on the Delhi Agra National Highway, so there are many many trains and buses plying on this route.
Due to some emergency at office, I had to come back within 8 hours of reaching Vrindavan. Despite wanting to stay back, I wasn’t able to experience the events / functions that were to be conducted in Mathura the next day.
May be next time 🙂