The festival of Holi is celebrated across the country but it’s the most colourful in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh—in the villages that feature in the lore of the Hindu god Krishna. These villages transform into tourist destinations during the festival, which is celebrated for as long as 16 days. The village of Barsana, where Radha, Krishna’s consort, is said to hail from, celebrates Lath Mar Holi. Women beat men with sticks as onlookers sing Holi songs in Braj bhasha.
The Sikh festival of Hola Mohalla, or simply Hola, follows the Hindu festival of Holi by a day. This tradition was established by Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru. The words hola mohalla stand for ‘mock fight’. Unlike Holi, when people play with colour and water, the week-long celebrations of Hola are an occasion for the Sikhs to demonstrate their martial skills in simulated battles. The custom originated when Guru Gobind Singh held the first such mock fight at Anandpur in 1701.
Compiled by Anindita Ghose
Photographs by Idris Ahmed
Delhi-based travel photographer Idris Ahmed has been documenting Holi in Uttar Pradesh and Hola in Punjab for the last four years.
For previous photo essay, log on to www.livemint.com/slideshows