A riot of colours took over the 400-year-old Gopinath temple at Mathura as hundreds of widows, clad in white sarees, smeared hues of red, yellow, and green on each other.
Braving the morning chill, elderly women from Vrindavan and Varanasi gathered at one of the oldest Krishna temples in the crowded Gopinath Bazaar earlier this week, to shun taboos and celebrate Holi.
Bindeshwar Pathak, Founder of NGO Sulabh International, which organises the event at Mathura, said,
Their participation in Holi symbolises a break from tradition, which forbids a widow from wearing a coloured saree, among many other things.
According to PTI reports, the ritual of widows celebrating the festival of colours among themselves began only in 2013, before which they were allowed to play Holi only with Thakurji (Lord Krishna). Meanwhile, in Barsana, local traditions of Lath Mar Holi were celebrated as veiled women beat men of the neighbouring town of Nandgaon with 'lathis'.
According to the ritual, as the women hurl canes at the men, the latter try to shield themselves from being hit, lest they are made to cross dress and dance. The vermilion-hued celebrations also saw people from both the towns singing folk songs and hymns at the Radha Rani Temple in Barsana.
Last year, the Vrindavan widows courageously broke a 400-year-old tradition. They were joined by the Varanasi widows. Tears and a riot of colours marked Holi for over a thousand widows who broke the age-old tradition and celebrated the festival.
As ‘Holi hai’ filled the air, amidst 1,200 kg of ‘gulal’ (coloured powder) and 1,500 kg of rose and marigold petals, the widows let go of their pain for the day. They smeared colours on each other's faces and danced to the tunes of traditional braj holi songs. Young Sanskrit scholars and pundits from the temple joined the celebrations, signifying the further social assimilation and acceptance of these widows.
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