Holi, a festival of love and colors, where people forget all their worries and just immerse themselves in colors and celebrate the carnival of love. This festival is celebrated in almost every state of India but I chose to drown myself in this festival at the town of Vrindavan, the town of Barsana & Nandgaon, the place where Holi originated and is celebrated in a very unique way which is called “Lathmaar” Holi. Popular belief is that Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s town on this day and playfully teased her and her friends taking offense at this, the women of Barsana chased him away. Since then, men from Krishna’s village, Nandgaon visit Barsana to play Holi in the town which is believed to be the only place in India to have Radha’s temple. These villages are so quaint and calm the rest of the year but these three days in a year generate exuberance and electrifying atmosphere.

Me and my most loved possession, the Leica M (Typ 240) decided to pair up, which I was too scared to venture out but as the festival is supposed to play with your loved ones I decided I will engulf myself and shoot with it. I wrapped it as much as I could but there was always a chance of water and color powder entering but the sturdiness and the responsiveness this beast has offered me in the past made me believe that I could shoot only on this.

The morning was pleasant but as the day progressed the light was getting harsh and every lane one walks there are people standing like snipers, throwing colors and buckets of water at you. I entered the temple and was totally overwhelmed by hoards of people who had completely forgotten their woes and worries and were religiously playing with gulal (colors) and spreading happiness, the environment was as infectious as it could get. I decided if I have to feel the festival then I have to be one of them, I left all my thoughts behind and became a part of them and started playing Holi with complete strangers who were now my extended family here.

After about two hours of extensive play and shooting the “Lath maar” Bhabhi’s (sister-in-law) as they are fondly called arrived at the scene and started pelting Lathis (sticks) on the chosen ones which they were also fondly accepting, I couldn’t be far away so went really close to witness and even got myself bruised, this whole thing lasted for an hour and then the sun went down and everybody started walking towards their homes, tired, smothered in color but preparing themselves for the next day in the town of Nandgaon as it’s suppose to be a friendly payback time, as the guys from this village will go to Nandgaon.

At Nandgaon I was expecting the same celebration the second day but to my surprise it was way ahead, scared by colors and water, few other photographers parked themselves at a distance and shot with a zoom, but for me I had to literally smell the colors in my nostrils and ventured in again and got close to get a sense of place, people and their ecstasy and shot the complete three days with a 28mm lens, the experience left me thinking how people believe in these little joys of life and wait for these festivals the whole year.

During the last day, the worry was how to remove the colors. People go in large groups to the bank of sacred river Yamuna at Vrindavan, take blessings and go for a holy dip, they jump in water, wash & dry clothes and get ready to start a fresh new year with lot of hope and joy. I’ll definitely visit this place again next year too with different pair of eyes.

These three days I learned the very basic intention of a man’s existence is his drive for adventure. These little joys of life come from our rendezvous with new experiences, and  there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly chasing bliss, for each day to have a new and different sun.

About Vineet:

Born in Delhi, India I did a master’s in fine arts from the prestigious College of Arts, I am a self-taught photographer and street photography is a passion that I live like a discipline. Although I started shooting as a wild life photographer for two years I switched on to street in 2001 and instantly became my passion and my first nature. In 2011 I formed APF (artphotofeature.com) along with my brother, Rohit Vohra, who is also a street photographer. APF is born from an education imperative, it’s an evolving magazine where we recognise fresh talent. The intent is to provide a platform for emerging photographers, artists and designers to showcase their works, works that are not necessarily commercial, to create opportunities and open new doors.

To know more about Vineet’s work, please visit his official website