Vrindavan: Vrindavan`s Iskcon temple attracts a lot of foreigners who are devotees of Lord Krishna and enjoy the Holi celebrations here, saying the Braj Mandal area is ‘par excellence’ during the festival of colours.
Russian tourist Anna Sergey, who was enjoying the prayer session at the temple with her husband Robbie, said it`s been a proud moment for them to be in Vrindavan during the Holi celebrations.
"We travel in India as pilgrims round-the-clock, but by looking at the festival mood we feel fortunate to be here at this time. The vibes that we feel with the celebrations and festivity are par excellence," Anna told IANS.
"We have been travelling for quite a few months. India is a very rich country as far as celebrations for every religion and gods and goddesses are concerned. There is so much belief and space for every individual`s sentiments. We don`t understand the language, but the feeling of connecting with god is common in each one of us in the temple," she added.
The Holi celebrations in this Uttar Pradesh region begin much before the festivities kick-start in other parts of India.
The Lath Maar Holi, where the women of Barsana hit men with lathis (sticks) and men shield themselves, started March 14, and culminated in the compound of Mathura`s Krishna Janma Bhoomi Temple Wednesday.
"At the moment we are trying to learn the history behind Holi. People are enjoying by throwing colour on each other; even I got the red colour... what do you call `gulaal` on me. It made me look beautiful," Anna said sheepishly.
Robbie, who was dressed in a dhoti-kurta, said the clarity of consciousness brings them to India.
"The clarity of consciousness, the energy, the faith and belief people have in god is beyond words. We see a lot of difference because people here love and laugh from within and are not fake," said Robbie.
India, known for its richness in culture and tradition, mesmerises foreigners so much so that they try to adapt to it.
"We not only believe in Krishna but also follow other gods like Shiva as well as the Buddha. We feel a magnetic affect and a positive energy by chanting their names. We are just back from Puri (in Orissa); before that we visited all the temples in Varanasi," Robbie said.
There were other foreign devotees and priests in the temple, but they were busy with the prayer session and declined to talk.
But a priest, who did not wish to be named, said foreigners do play Holi in the Iskcon temple.
"We don`t play Holi with colours in the temple. People play with colours only outside on the streets. In the temple, we only play with flowers," he said, adding: "A lot of foreigners come here."
Avnish Bajaj, a young shopkeeper who has a garment shop just opposite the Iskcon Temple, said during Holi the footfalls of foreigners increases here.
"Yes, the footfalls of foreigners increase during Janmashthmi and Holi. They specifically buy traditional clothes and feel excited. They like to buy bright coloured clothes and wear saris and lehenga-cholis."