Holi – much more than gulaal for these Vrindavan widows!

Colors, flowers and SMILES! - What my Holi was like!
Colors, flowers and SMILES! – What my Holi was like!

HOLIDAY!!!!, is what Holi meant to me for all these past years. For others, it meant colors, pichkaari, water balloons, pool party, lots of dance (and bhaang)! But one Holi spent in Vrindavan, has changed my perception about the “festival of colors” altogether!

What is a festival of colors in other parts of India, is a festival of love in Mathura-Vrindavan! Here, the festival is celebrated for more than two weeks, in the memory of the eternal love of Radha-Krishna! This is evident in the way the locals celebrate the festival with so much love and adoration for the divine couple. Radhe-Radhe greetings greet you everywhere you go, sweet bhajans rise from every temple that reach your ears like a beautiful medley, people hugging each other, even strangers, and applying gulaal (without being creepy / lecherous), flocks of devotees walking from temple to temple with nothing but Krishan bhakti on their mind, the water of Yamuna and the winds of the land of Radha-Krishna dance along, as if watching and admiring this festive gathering!

This year, I broke the tradition of hiding in my house on Holi, with more than 1000 Vrindavan widows, who were themselves breaking every myth and tradition imposed upon them by the society! In a spectacular gesture by the NGO Sulabh International, this was the first time these widows celebrated Holi with colors and flowers, within the premises of a temple – and what a celebration it was! Watching these women smile, many of whom were disowned by their own families after the death of their husband…watching them dance, play, enjoy, be FREE…I can’t find the right words to explain that feeling! Many of these widows have spent all their life here, away from their family, only living one day at a time, the life they have now devoted to Lord Krishna – and today, it’s Holi, the celebration of Radha’s love for Krishna ji, and you see a Radha in each of them, all Radha’s dancing to the tunes of the flute of Krishna, like in a trance! I will stop trying to describe something that just can’t be, and leave you with a few pics that try to reflect what the festival of love in Vrindavan is all about!

Flower and Gulaal Holi for Vrindavan widows at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

 

Vrindavan widows celebrating Holi at Shri Radha Gopinath Temple, Vrindavan!

The best part about the day was how the entire village joined in the celebrations, from kids to families, they were all there, taking blessings from all the women!
The best part about the day was how the entire village joined in the celebrations, from kids to families, they were all there, taking blessings from all the women!

 

There's a Radha in all of us, and everyone is Krishna! :)
There’s a Radha in all of us, and everyone is Krishna! 🙂

 

This is my favorite memory from the day. When I took this picture, the kids hugged the women and they said “yeh mera pota hai (this is my Grand-Son”. After I walked away, I asked the kids if she was their Grand-Mom and they said no, but they let her say this because it makes her happy. While this would make some people sad, it made me happy, because even while their own family has disowned these widows, there are some people who are trying to bring a smile back in their lives!

 

PS: Keep our travel trail clean. Don’t litter, motivate your friends to do the same!

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