LATHMAR HOLI (4) FESTIVAL OF STICKS & COLOURS
NANDGAON - UTTAR PRADESH - INDIA
The second day's events culminate with crowds congregating in the streets of Nandgaon to witness the men being hit by the women with sticks (lathis). The men's only protection is a padded, wooden shield held above their heads. It was early evening and, once again, Puru guided and protected us through the narrow and very crowded streets to where we could view the extremely noisy, and somewhat aggressive, displays of this annual ritual.
Nandgaon is Lord Krishna’s birthplace and Radha, his beloved, came from Barsana. The Radha-Krishna love-story is one of the most famous in Hindu mythology. According to legend, it is believed that Lord Krishna and his friends visited Radha in Barsana during Holi. When Lord Krishna applied colour on Radha's face and teased her, her friends and the elder females of the town took offence and drove them away with bamboo sticks (lathis), hence the tradition of women hitting men with sticks.
All in the good spirit of Holi!! It might appear violent but the festival has a strong significance in Hindu mythology.
The streets and rooftops of Nandgaon are packed with people watching this amazing spectacle.
Similar displays take place at various locations throughout the village.
Brandishing their wooden sticks, the women take it in turns to continuously batter the men's protective shields with brute force.
Photographs ©Don Davies
Video ©Anne Davies