Come March and two otherwise sleepy and inconsequential towns in Uttar Pradesh start buzzing with life and are the most favoured destinations from all across the world. These towns are Barsana and Nandgaon. Barsana is believed to be the birth place of Radha who was Lord Krishna’s favourite Gopi. Nandgaon located nearby is believed to be the place where foster father of Lord Krishna, Nand Baba resided and Krishna himself is believed to have spent few years of his life here.
As per Hindu Mythology, Krishna used to come along with his Gops (shepeherd friends) to play Holi with Gopis (cow herding girls) of Barsana and Gopis used Lathis (sticks) to beat them and chase them away. Villagers are enacting the same where men folk from Nandgaon come to Barsna dressed as Krishna and women folk of Barsana use sticks to chase them away. Roles are reversed on the next day where men folk from Barsana do the same in Nandgaon and women folk of Nandgaon chase them away using sticks. While Laathmaar Holi is being played on the narrow lanes and by-lanes of these two villages of their respective days, elders from both villages assemble in Nandji Temple in Nandgaon and sing devotional songs sitting face to face while men of Nandgaon pour colors on them.
On the ground the festival is intense and tourists from all across the world throng to these two small villages to witness this high intensity festival. For any traveller, it could be energy draining and locals ensure that they keep the intensity high and use sack loads of colors to throw on revellers. Narrow lanes and by lanes are literally color drenched with some inches thick cover of color on the street surface.
Its a favourite destination for photographers from around the world. I have found this to be the most challenging photography opportunity ever. Color is being thrown from virtually every direction, even from top and that makes it all the more difficult. Camera is covered in specially designed cover but the front element is still exposed which has to continuously protected from color. When in thick of action, color is all over there – in the air, in your face, in your eyes and wherever you can think of. It is virtually impossible to look through the viewfinder and you need special skill sets to see the frame, compose and click without looking through the viewfinder. But does that deter the photographer from clicking? No prizes for guessing this right. Photographers jostle for space pulling and pushing their way to find the best strategical point to shoot the action.
The photo story is covered by Jassi Oberai. Jassi is a photographer based in New Delhi. He is actively involved into photo mentoring as Canon India’s Photo Mentor.
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All the pictures in this post are work of Jassi Oberai and used with permission.