Holi is the “Festival of Colors” and for most of India, it is celebrated throughout the country on a full moon day in the month of Phalguna (February – March). But Holi in the Brij region is a sight to see as it is celebrated for a whole 40 days! There are several events during these 40 days, such as: Latmar Holi (played with sticks), Phool Hol ( played with flowers), Samaj Holi ( played by elders of society) etc. The following photographs depict “Samaj Holi”.
Samaj Holi begins with the elderly group of villagers arriving at the Radha Rani palace in Barsana by singing melodious songs. These songs are called Holi Raasiyas (Holi songs) and are also played with traditional Indian instruments such as the “Mradaan”, the “Dhaap”, or the “Harmonium”. It is a congregation of rhythmic recitals and playful riots of colors, thereby making it an ecstatic ambiance.
Lord Krishna was radiant and divine, and he would often clothe himself in regal attire to impress all the Gopis (milk maids). On seeing Lord Krishna, the Gopis would marvel at the beauty of his radiance and aura. Before Krishna would attend the Raas Leela, the Gopis would do his makeup as an act of love for their lord. The Gopis loved Krishna, and Krishna loved them. They would often spend time at the park where Krishna would play his flute and the Gopis would flow with his music through their dance. This historic tradition continues today in the Brij region where you will see little children dressed up as Lord Krishna and the Gopis
Check out our videos depicting Holi and the Mayur Dance through harmonious music, vivid shots, and beautiful color
At the age of 8, Krishna moved from Gokula to Vrindavan and becam immensely popular among the Vrindavan people. During the night of Holi (festival of colors), on a full moon and just after spring when the flowers were fully bloomed, Lord Krishna played his flute and began dancing. The harmonious music flowed beautifully and Radha joined him in dance with the Gopis (milkmaids). Together, they danced the night away in a state of exuberance and joy.This song illustrates the playful teasing between Krishna & Radha during Holi festival where Krishna is trying to color Radha and Radha is trying to run away from him to escape being colored.
Radha Rani’s daily routine was to have her meal only after seeing the peacock birds in a park called “Mor Kuti” (peacock park) located in Barsana. One day, she was disheartened to find that not a single peacock had come to Mor Kuti. On seeing Radha sad, Lord Krishna presented the “mayur dance “(peacock dance) with his friends in front of Radhe Rani. Radha Rani was overjoyed and said that Radha would dance everytime when Krishna will become a “mor” (peacock). Even today, this dance is performed on numerous occasions as the symbol of happiness and love.
The Mayur Dance is a very high-effort performance. After fitting into heavy costumes, artists also need to wear real peacock feathers that are woven to form a fan-like pattern. This tapestry is quite heavy and difficult to lift, let alone dance with them on your head.
The Peacock is very dear to Krishna as it represents pure & pious love. Male peacock dances are considered to be even more beautiful than female peacock dances. Legend has it that during a peacock dance, the peacock spreads its feathers and performs an extremely emotional dance which causes it to cry. The lady peacock then drinks those tears and gets pregnant. Krishna’s partner, Radha, used to love peacocks. Therefore, to honor this pure love of him and Radha, Krishna would always wear Peacock feathers on his “mukut” (crown/head ).