Holi: A Short Tale in 9 Selfies

First off… This is the first and last time, I shall ever post photos of myself. However, I cannot help it this time…

I was off in the region known as Braj Bhoomi area to shoot the Holi celebrations. Unlike Delhi, where it is a tame, and possibly also a rather disgusting affair, the celebrations carry on for over 1o days in the area.

The Braj Bhoomi is defined, in a sense, as the land of Krishna, upto the time he was a young man.

On Day One, we were in a village called Barsana. It is here, and in a neighbouring village called Nandgaon, where they also play a form of Holi called “Lat-Mar”. This tradition dates back in time, where the ladies of the village, hit the men of the neighbouring village with a lathi, which is a 6 foot long hard stick. Don’t try and pronounce ‘lathi’. The ‘th’ is beyond the Western tongue. This is a rather deadly weapon, and can split a person’s head open. These women really whack hard.

In Barsana, they play ‘dry’ Holi. They fling dry colours on each other, and the ‘lat-mar’ starts in the evening. First off, a chap flung the colour right into my eyes. I was caught in the stampede three times, and actually almost got crushed. But…. it was fun.

So, you have me… at the start of the day… during the day and at the end of the day…

I wore that rather ridiculous hat to avoid getting my hair coloured…

On Day Two, we were in Nandgaon, where they play ‘wet’ Holi. Here, they spray the coloured water onto you. This can be the type that gets washed off easily, or the type that stays on for 8-9 days.

In Nandgaon, the Holi was absolutely wild. The people were going crazy flinging the coloured water at each other. It was, in short, a really wild ride.

My clean face from Day One, changed…..

Did I get colour in my eyes? Yes? Was it fun? Yo, babies!

I had, by Day Two, discarded the rather ridiculous hat that I wore on Day One.

You don’t see my hair or my feet… But, my hair and feet are still red……

I was lucky to get my shoes back from the temple door… Walking around barefoot for there hours on slippery, red and wet floors can be tricky..

And then, the lat-mar again… Do the women hit with vim and vigour, as the men crouch with leather shields to protect themselves!

Day Three was in Vrindavan. I joined a crowd of people as they walked barefoot around the sacred town. Some people did it on their bodies… 8-10 km on their bodies… That is devotion..

In the afternoon, we were at the famous Banke Bihari Temple, where we were showered with colour, flowers and water. If even one picture inside the temple is a workable one, I shall consider myself lucky.

In picture three, I am using a different head cloth, called a ‘gumchha’. One with religious stuff on it, even though I am a non-believer. My wife thought the red one looked like a kitchen duster, and it killed the Red Pirate look I was aiming for!

Picture Two was taken while I was on a crumbly wall, shooting the people. Picture Three was the end of day stuff.

I wore a green kurta in the morning, and the old, smelly T-shirt of Day Two in the afternoon….


I give you the pleasure of my jeans 25% of the way through Day Two. They are beyond redemption now.

On Day Three, I walked almost 2.5 km, barefoot, along the road towards the Temple. Then, I  took a rickshaw, and walked barefoot in the temple area.

I then bought a pair of rainbow coloured slippers, for the grand price of 1.67 US Dollars!

I have a picture of my feet in them, but my feet are so dirty that I will not show them to you!

Well, I do plan to go back next year… For 4-5 days, maybe.

If anyone wants to come along…. start planning now!


  1. This was great Rajiv!!! My school is talking about hole and my daughters class played it at school, throwing powder paint at each other!!!

  2. Wow! 10 days! I’ve joined in the celebrations for the 2 day version (will post shortly!) but I can’t imagine a 10 day Holi festival. I would love to know the origin of the women attacking the men with the lathis; I’ll have to google it and see what I can find.
    Love the photos!

  3. Oh gosh it’s really funny, it appears that is a lot of fun but exhausting of some sort as well! Love your dedication though and your outfits are well chosen for the event, love the pirate theme 🙂
    Great story, really enjoyed the humor!

    1. In a way, yeah… Especially getting caught in the stampede.. Not sure if I mentioned that I got shoved into a ditch during the last one..

  4. Thanks for sharing some of your countrie’s traditions, Rajiv. Holi is probably celebrated here in Canada too, but I wasn’t aware of it.

      1. That would be great. I would like to have the tradition explained further – why the use of coloured powders and dyes. How did it get its name etc.

  5. That was a fun read. So different and I love different! But one thing I may have missed or I don’t get. WHY do the women get to hit the men? What does it signify? What amazes me is that if this tradition dates back into time, I would be surprised to learn that women were able to do this! I guess I’ve often though of women has being seen and not heard up until the 60’s. Pretty much anyway. Thanks for sharing your adventures and your face! 😀

  6. Ho, ho, Rajiv! Finally got to see the Young man! Great post and good pics, but You look quite serious.

    Would have liked to accompany You, but as Trump has borrowed my leather shield, I shall pass!

    Regards. 🙂

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