Mathura: Thousands of pilgrims have gathered here Monday for the traditional `Lath Mar` Holi, which will see women revellers beating up men with sticks.
At Barsana, the hysteria has touched a crescendo as thousands of pilgrims lined up along the 252 steps to the Radha temple on the hill showering colours and rose petals.
District authorities have deployed senior officials and PAC companies to keep vigil and ensure that nothing goes wrong during the `Lath Mar` festivities.
"Houses with weak terraces and structures have been identified to prevent people climbing up for better view of the proceedings at the Rangeeli Chowk," an official told reporters over phone.
District CMO (chief medical officer) M.L. Mishra has stationed two ambulances, and four teams of health workers are manning medical camps in Barsana town.
"The real celebration of Lath Mar holi will start in the afternoon. We are expecting a helicopter to shower rose petals," said priest Ram Babu Sharma.
Traditionally, it is believed that Lord Krishna with his friends Gops (men) from Nandgaon, a town in Mathura district, went to his beloved Radha`s village in Barsana and played Holi, a riot of colours (gulal).
"On Sunday, the gops (men) from Nandgaon had visited Barsana to invite Radha and gopis to play Holi. Laddoos were offered to welcome the gops and a session of Holi bhajans and dances followed in the evening."
"The temple priests threw laddoos on the devotees marking the Laddoo ki holi," said a devotee Manoj. Non-stop beating of dholaks, mridangas (percussion instruments) and majheeras (cymbals) heightened the effect.
The Braj Mandal, a 150 sq km area around Mathura associated with the Krishna-Radha lore and having scores of shrines and pilgrim centres, is also buzzing with Holi festivities.
"In the Braj area, this is a time for celebrations and revelries when the Brajwasis just let go and indulge in all kinds of foolery, singing and dancing, the Rasia dangals and fire-walking. The Bhang mixed Thandai, a concoction of almonds, cashew and other herbs is much in demand," musician Acharya Jaimini said.
"In the old days, the celebrations continued for more than a fortnight, but now action is confined to just a few days," priest Hari Mohan Shrotriya said.
Also called `Phag`, Holi is time for folk dances and folk songs. The temples in the Braj mandal hold Rasia dangals (a form of poetry contests peculiar to Braj), songs full of Bhakti and love.