Trains from Agra to Mathura were late and super busy. We had only general class tickets though managed to get an upgrade (for cash) on the ride. It was less than an hour and we had arrived – as usual some people demonstrating a complete lack of manners e.g. Let me on the train first before you can get off 🤬🤬🤬
We stayed in Mathura the day prior to holi as there is afternoon procession here after the morning festivities in Vrindavan (see blog in blue box below for details).
Is the most an ancient hindi festival also referred to a festival of colours, spring festival or festival of love. It is celebrated in march though on varying dates depending on when full moon occurs. It is mostly celebrated in North India and Nepal with key locations being Mathura & Vrindavan (birth place & place of youth for Krishna) in Uttar Pradesh and Pushkar in Rajasthan. This blog provides excellent detail for Mathura.
This years holi was on the 21st March (2020: 9th March) with celebrations in the morning (start as early as 7am) where everyone gets smeared with colours though much of the party already happens the night before culminating in bon fires (holika bonfires). The latter signifies the burning of the devil.
We kicked off by a form of staged holi and we were invited to join a group of people filming for holi – colours galore, dance, laughter… All fun. Just we regretted not to have a good dust cover for the camera and ourselves 😉🤣🙏🌈 It was also the only place with a somewhat normal male / female mix. The holi in the streets seems to be an exclusive event for Indian men – probably due to the high level of harassment (see below). 🤔🤷♂️
We continued towards a holi place by the river – the Vishram Ghat – and from there. To holi gate. We were joined by a group of Swiss, Dutch and US fellow holi-goers. By holi gate we had finally caught up with the festivities (having wondered earlier where the heck it was).
Equipped with colours we headed back towards the river to see the main procession. Trucks and tractors came along with bumping beats and loads of people. Selfies with half india followed 🤳 🇮🇳 🙏.
Amidst a lot of happiness, indian men showed their nasty side again. All girls got groped all over their body. No respect. Poor manners yet again. It is obvious that many use holi to explore some of their sexual fantasies and some even hatred towards the white race. They see it as a ‘legal’ way to vent emotions along the lines of “buran a maano, holi hai” (“its Holi, take no offense“). It doesn’t concerns westerners and locals alike.
We skipped the bonfires (around 11pm) and headed home (after dinner embarrassingly dirty) completely drenched in colours. On top, we found our room flooded. Ultimately we got camera & rucksack clean. Laura’s former white t-shirt has been promoted to an official holi souvenir and my blue cloth might recover in a washing machine.
As we slept in next morning and our room was flooded again, i got going late. Laura had enough anyway and stayed in. So no Vrindavan today either, but a stroll through the streets.
The colours of Holi – toxic stuff?
The dry colours are also called Gulal. They used to be made from completely natural ingredients. Since the Holi has been commercialised, they now include loads of toxic elements. So thankfully this event is only annual.
Meaning of the colours
- Blue – water element & colour of Lord Krishna, signifies affection, faith, and spiritual growth
- Red – energy, excitement, ambition and auspiciousness
- Green – pride, positiveness, freshness, and coolness
- Orange – new beginnings, spiritual path, and knowledge
- Yellow – prosperity, health, and peace
There were still parties here or there, but the city was generally in cleanup mode. The ashes of the burnt bonfires and colourful streets a reminder of parties in the previous night. Some guys still sleeping off their night.
Time to go. Nothing holds us here anymore other than a very late departure of the overnight train 🚂 to Varanasi – another holi place. Thank god we have 2AC tickets confirmed – the station was absolutely packed.
A few snaps of Mathura
Mathura has some decent spots (by the river, especially on the other side it seemed), but is generally very dirty.
At the train station we met a few nice people – many of which apologised on behalf of their rogue fellow countrymen. Good vibes to say goodbye to Holi.