Hundreds of women in two northern Indian cities have celebrated Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, by playfully beating men with wooden sticks in response to their “teasing” as part of a ritual.
After two years of subdued revelry due to COVID-19, the Holi celebrations that began last week recreated the legend of the Hindu god Krishna spraying his consort Radha and her friends with red, yellow, green and saffron colours.
The women came from Nandgaon, the legendary birthplace of Krishna, and the men came from Radha’s hometown of Barsana – sister cities about 115 km south of the capital New Delhi.
The men wore turbans and held shields over their heads to protect themselves from the blows of the women in the mock battle.
Anointed with colored powder, the devotees then bathe at the 19th-century Nandagram Temple near where Hindus believe Krishna and his brother Balram spent their childhood. They exchanged sweets and drinks as part of the festivities.
Some men were caught by women and forced to dress like them. Then they sang and danced with the women.
The “Lathmar Holi” (Stick Holi) festival attracts large numbers of visitors from all over the world.
Holi traditions vary across India. In most parts, the holiday is celebrated on a Wednesday, with the streets and avenues turning into playgrounds as people throw water balloons and shoot squirt guns at each other.
Holi, which marks the arrival of spring, is widely celebrated in India, Nepal and other countries with large diaspora populations in the Indian subcontinent.