Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), Feb.13 : The city of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh has commenced celebrations connected with the "Festival of Colours", "Holi", more than a month in advance with the spring festival of Basant Panchami.
The countdown for Holi has already begun in Mathura and Vrinadavan which are the most important Vaishnavite (Worshippers of Lord Vishnu) holy places in India.
Mathura is regarded as the birthplace of Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, while Vrindavan is regarded as the place where he spent hishildhood with cowherds and village maidens.
Mathura is also popularly known among Hindus as Braj Bhoomi, swarming with innumerable tales about Krishna.
"I am feeling glad to be here. I wish to spend some more time here, rather I don't feel like going back. The atmosphere is really full of enthusiasm. Everyone is enjoying," said Reema, a pilgrim.
Another pilgrim, Dev Bhardawaj, said: "I am feeling so good at this place. I like to play Holi. After arriving at Varindavan, I felt as if I have got an opportunity to visit heavens. I am feeling relaxed spiritually as well as I am energetic enough to play the game of colours for a continued duration."
Holi is celebrated in temples before it is on streets. Devotees are thronging temples that have idols of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha.
"Dry Holi (use of dry colours) starts from today, that is, exactly a month and a half prior to the actual Holi. It continues till the day of actual Holi, which is celebrated in the entire country. We put red colour on the idols of Lord Krishna marking begining of this festival. We'll be singing Holiymns in the evening, all in the name of Bankebihari (Lord Krishna)," said Gopi Goswami, a priest at the Bankebihari Mandir in Vrindavan.
The festival is preceded by performances that last well over a week. Artists from various parts of the country gather here to perform raas leela,r dance recitals depicting Krishna's flirtatious interlude with the village maidens. Gayan mandalis (singing troupes) that render folk songs particularly associated with Holi, flock to Varindavan. The artistic exuberance associated with the festival is termed as Rang Gulal.