When liquor started spoiling the decency and fun of the colourful lathmar holi, women of Barsana got together and managed to save the situation. Three cheers to their woman power.
One of the most important festivals of India, Holi, is just round the corner. Holi as a festival has such a charm that its reverberations start making their presence felt more than a month before it finally makes its appearance. All over the countryside Holi is celebrated in its peculiarly nuanced and local manner as well, but what stands out as the most singular manifestation associated with this occasion is the Lath Maar Holi of Barsana near Mathura.
For the uninitiated, the characteristic feature of this Holi is that the males in the family are rained with blows of lathis or clubs and sticks by the female relatives.
This variety of Holi is celebrated over three days and all the ladies who indulge in this act of exuberance are popularly called as gopis. It is characterized by the fact that men folk cannot retaliate against the raining of blows and those who are not brave enough to face the onslaught have to adorn women’s clothes and dance in public.
Such is the name and fame of this laththmar Holi that it has become a major tourist attraction in the calendar of national and international tourists and people throng much before the occasion to soak in the ambience.
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But as the canvas of the occasion spreads, decadence also starts setting in, and the same happened in the case of Barsaane Kee Holi. A Holi tradition which was characterized by total submission of the males to the onslaught of the females with staff in their hands, but never crossed the self-determined lines of decency, started getting bawdy and vulgar over a period of time and the trigger for it was the increasing flow of liquor and its availability with relative ease.
After enduring the piquant situation for some time, this time around the Gopis firmly put their foot down and gave an ultimatum that there would be no lathmaar Holi this time around if the outlets selling liquor are not banned during the time of festivities spread over three days.
The gopis were helped in their quest by the saints in and around Barsana and Mathura who raised their voice in unison and demanded that if the festival is to be celebrated the administration would have to issue official orders to shut down the liquor vends. Administration had to bow down to the demands of the gopis and all the liquor vends have been closed down for the three days during which this festival is celebrated. Buoyed by this victory, the gopis have decided not to rest on their laurels but to take the campaign forward and demand that whole of Barsana become a liquor-free zone.
Salute to the woman power which rose in unison against the degeneration of a historical edifice and did not allow it to be corrupted by the modern ills of society. They have led by example to demonstrate that if women join hands, they indeed can bring about the change that is required in the society.