Lath mar Holi is a local celebration of the Hindu festival of Holi. It takes place days before the actual Holi in the neighbouring towns of Barsana and Nandgaon near Mathura in the state of Uttar Pradesh, where thousands of Hindus and tourists congregate, each year.The name means “that Holi in which hit with sticks”.
Legend has it that Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s village on this day and playfully teased her and her friends. Taking offence at this, the women of Barsana chased him away. Keeping in sync with the story, the men from Nandgaon visit the town of Barsana every year, only to be greeted by sticks (aka lathis) of the women there. The ladies hurl sticks at the men, who try to shield themselves as much as they can. The unlucky ones are captured by the enthusiastic women who then, make the men wear female clothing and dance in public.
In the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple in Barsana, which is said to be the only temple in the country that is dedicated to Radha. Thousands gather to witness the Lath Mar holi when women beat up men with sticks (laṭh or lāṭhī) as those on the sidelines become hysterical, sing Holi Songs and shout Sri Radhey or Sri Krishna. The Holi songs of Braj mandal are sung in pure Braj Bhasha.