Sonal Mangla Gupta's profile

Holi - For the love of colour


A breath of fresh air mixed with the taste of gulal is what these photos remind me off; freedom before the world went into lockdown.

“Its 2:00 am and I’m tossing in my bed thinking of a hundred reasons to head back to Delhi after spending a day in Barsana for the Lathmar Holi. It is another day of drowning in coconut oil, dodging water guns and balloons from very enthusiastic boys and a large number of people putting colour on my face chanting ‘radhe radhe’. Yet I wake up the next morning, doing all of the above and heading out for the love of photography!

In all honesty, it was like watching the world go crazy – the frenzy of excitement that gripped the streets, people high on bhang and dancing like there was no tomorrow, clouds of color bursting through the air, water guns and buckets, no friends or foes just the coming together of communities to celebrate the madness. You can’t rationalize it – just dive in deep and be part of it. So, let’s roll with the photos to share this unforgettable experience –

Experiencing brotherhood through the magic of colors.
There were as many photographers as villagers on all the days. The fight to get closest to the subject is real as everyone is on the quest to get that next National Geographic cover. Irony is that probably Steve Mc shot that cover photo in the bylanes of Vrindavan with actors and avoided the nudges all together. Lets play a game of counting the cameras in this photo!
This was a personal favourite from the trip – the sound of the ghungroos getting lost in the chaos but the dancing frozen in time on the temple grounds of Nandgaon.
The concert on the move in Barsana. Music flowing through the bylanes. People dancing to the beats of the dhol. Men teasing women with songs of Krishna entering Barsana with his friends to play Holi with Radha.
The music fills the air with merriment, kids throw their hands up in the air and join the fun.
Not sure if that blow was meant for me or the camera – well, we were both covered in minty green.
Samsung and Instagram made their way to the streets of Vrindavan. Did I just interrupt this selfie?
Not a fan of getting colour on your face, are you?
A vendor readies gulal packets during lunch. The streets are eerily quiet as people prepare for the ‘samaj’ at the Radha Rani temple and the Lathmar Holi.

‘Yellow’ in Hinduism symbolizing happiness and peace.
That knowing grin sharing the hilarity of it all.
The men get dressed in turbans with shields preparing for the lathis (sticks) to rain on their heads by the women of their house.
Of course bhang (cannabis) helps in numbing the pain of the lathis!
Legend has it – a really really stoned man tried to take the wrong wife home. The famous Lathmar Holi.
He was equally amused as the rest of us. The smile of sunshine and innocence!
Giving ‘Coachella’ designers a run for their money!
Friendship blooming in chaos.
The high priests of the Nandgoan temple, bura na maano holi hai (don't get offended, it's holi)
Rang Barse! (It's raining color)
The setting for the ‘samaj’ as everyone takes their places and photographers begin their race to be in the line of fire.
The golden book of historic songs from centuries ago - a treasure!
The 'samaj' in all its glory and high energy.
Music and clouds of red fill the scene. Its nothing short of magic, I’m reminded of having flown thousands of miles for this moment. It was all worth it!
Holi - For the love of colour

Holi - For the love of colour

An odyssey into the streets of North India to cover the festival of colour and ushering of spring - Holi!


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