Holi in Mathura

Mathura , situated on the banks of River Yamuna in the province of Uttar Pradesh, is one of the pilgrimage places for the Hindus. Cultural festivals in Mathura are celebrated with religious fervor & spirit of popular gaiety. Holi is the most colourful of Hindu festivals. It is a Spring festival celebrated on the Full Moon day of the month of Phalgun (February- March). The festival is probably older than the current legends that explain its origin; for it has many elements of primitive fertility orgies that have defied civilization and prudery and during the three days of Holi practically the whole country — villages, towns and cities— goes gay with merry-makers and is invested with a bacchanalian air. Streets, parks and public places are crowded with people daubed in diverse colours, and the spirit of Holi is to make people ridiculous. The festival is something of an All Fools Day.

In many parts of India Kama, the god of pleasure, is the presiding deity of Holi. Kama is the Indian Cupid whose bow is the sugarcane and its string a line of humming bees; his arrows are flower shafts tipped with passion and wound the heart. He is most active in Spring and roves woodlands and dales, relentlessly hunting for his victims among birds, beasts and men. In South India the songs sung during Holi include the lamentations of Rati (‘passion’), Kama's wife, on the death of the love-god, burnt to ashes by Shiva when he tried to tempt the ascetic god.

Krishna (the eighth incarnation of Vishnu) too is an important deity worshipped during Holi, According to certain legends the festival of Holi was instituted to commemorate the destruction by Krishna of a female demon called Putana. When Krishna was a baby, Kansa, his enemy and king of the realm, in order to destroy him ordered a general massacre of all children; one of Kansa's agents was a female fiend named Putana who assumed human form and went about the country suckling to death every child she found and the infant Krishna, knowing her to be a fiend, sucked her blood and thus destroyed her. Krishna is a god of many loves, and in places like Mathura where Krishna cults flourish, Holi is celebrated with song and dance in addition to the usual colour-daubing, and bonfires are lit to commemorate the cremation of Putana. Those who attribute the origin of all festivals to seasonal cycles maintain that Putana represents winter and her death and cremation, the cessation of winter.

Participation in celebration of Holi in Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna, is a lifetime experience. The festivities of Holi in Mathura commence seven days prior the celebration with musical procession from the holy temples to Yamuna ghats and lastly to Holi gate. Holi is rejoiced and played in different ways in Mathura. Lathmar Holi in Nandgaon & Barsana, Holi of colours in Banke Bihari Temple and grand Holika Dahan in Kosi are highly notable events. In addition to devotees partaking in these events, a large number of foreign travelers ensure to be witness to these festive activities.

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