Barsana, (UP) Mar 16: The people of Barsana and adjoining villages, celebrated the festival of colour -- Holi -- with traditional gaiety and fervor, a week ahead of the rest of the country.
Men and women in traditional costumes took out a colourful procession here, about 50 kilometres from Mathura, which is the birthplace of Lord Krishna, and sprinkled colours at each other.
Revellers sang folk songs and danced in groups to celebrate the legendary "Rasaleela" or romance of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha.
Krishna is the archetypal Hindu God of romance and the only incarnation of God as a common village shepherd.
Holi played at Barsana, is unique in a sense as women chase away men, beating them with sticks.
Celebrating an age-old tradition, people from neighbouring towns and villages sang provocative songs to invite the attention of women.
The women go on the offensive and use long sticks or staves called "lathis" to beat off men folk who protect themselves with shields, marking the re-enactment of the age-old tradition, a fun-filled time for everybody.
"These sticks are expression of romantic anger of Radha and her friends asking why lord Krishna and his shepherd friends do not live with them all the time. The beating is not intended to injure them but depicts love," said Sanjay Goswami, president of festival organizing committee.
This particular sequence gives Holi festival in Mathura, the appellation of "Lathmar" or Holi with staves.
Legend has it that Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha's village on this day and playfully teased her, and her friends. Taking offence at this, the women of Barsana chased him away.
Since then, men from Krishna's village, Nandgaon, visit Barsana to play Holi in the town which has the distinction of having the only temple dedicated to Radha in India.
Holi is celebrated a week later in the rest of the country.