Thursday, March 15, 2012

Holi and Kodak moments with family

I had one question on my mind on the eve of Holi celebration. So I looked up for a city with history of crazy Holi celebrations. Everything pointed me to one city. Mathura. It is among the 7 holiest cities in India. It is most important to the Hindus because it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Sprawled along the bank of Yamuna river, this city is a Hindu heritage site with scores of temples and important religious sites. This old city still retains its old world’s charm. Old buildings with interesting windows, monkeys, cows and old shops all intrigued me enough for an exciting trip. Though I was not new to such setting, this one was special.

It is no different when it comes to Holi celebration. The city dwellers are crazy about Holi. You just have to see the photos to believe. I got on the bus to Mathura at Sarai Kale Khan Bus stand and after 4 hours I was there. People here are so camera friendly so you don't have to ask anyone to pose for you. They'll just do it on their own. 

Vendors doing brisk business with colors flaunt different colors on themselves to attract more customers. One friendly shopkeeper advised me to buy a head cover scarf and some oil for my face to resist the colors. I was a bit concerned about colors because I didn't want to travel on metro the next day with colors all over my face. So I paid hid to his advise. 
Here Holi begins a day earlier. This is not Holi celebration but rather a prelude. Mass procession starts from the Dwarkadhish temple and march through the streets and towards late evening returns to the temple. Most people ride on tractors and the troupe is accompanied by musicians and singers. 
A religious ritual of throwing ghee  into the fire was conducted at Dwarkadhish Temple by the priest on the eve of Holi. After the priest had repeatedly done that people rushed in to get the ashes as they considered it sacred.
 As I walked down the old street of Mathura I was amazed by the jovial-festive mood. Everyone you turned to seemed to have no worries. It seemed to me that the street was even lit better because of the happiness emanating from people's faces.  
After a good night sleep I woke up with colors on my face. I had a simple breakfast and walked down the streets once again. Unlike Delhi and other cities where the celebrations began early morning and ended around midday, here  the day starts very late and it picked up pace only after 10am. The celebration was an all day affair. The day began with goodwill greeting and hugs.
'So what if you can't see your face for a day?' was what they seemed to be conveying me as I viewed through my viewfinder. 
A drummer boy beating to the beat of Holi. Let the spirit of Holi unleash! 
A Rickshawwala who couldn't afford to take a day off was stopped midway and showered with a bag of pink color powder.  You can't get angry, because the festival is all about colors but at the same time the celebration is towards the extreme. They do the same to foreigners. This is MATHURA during Holi!
Foreign tourists flocked at the town's square to get first hand experience of colors. Most of them came from Agra. The locals told me that there was a considerable increase of foreign tourist at the festival this year. No wonder locals love playing with foreigners. They in fact got too touchy at times making it necessary for the police to intervene at more than one occasions. A Spanish guy told me that he had not seen anything like it. "Crazy" is how he described the whole scenario.    
When I saw this sage in the morning he was all white. He had a white beard cascading down to his chest but then, it's color changed in a matter of minutes. When I saw him latter i could hardly recognize him. He was well lost in the mood of Holi. I couldn't resist aiming my camera at him. 

Location: Uttar Pradesh
How to Reach: Take a Bus from Sarai Kale Khan Bus Stand


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