FESTIVALS : Vasant Panchami: The first day of Holi

Holi is probably the most awaited festival in all of Braj. People all over Mathura and Vrindavan eagerly await the 40 day long festivities which start from Vasant Panchami. Dedicated to Ma Sarasvati, the Goddess of Knowledge and Learning, Vasant Panchami

Holi is probably the most awaited festival in all of Braj. People all over Mathura and Vrindavan eagerly await the 40 day long festivities which start from Vasant Panchami. Traditionally celebrated on the 5th day of the Magh Shukla paksha (bright lunar fortnight), this is the official starting of the spring season. Dedicated to Ma Sarasvati, the Goddess of Knowledge and Learning, Vasant Panchami is also considered to be the first day of Holi.

In Mathura, this is the day when Lord Krishna changes his winter garments to adorn the colors of spring. The bright spring yellow theme pervades not just the deity but he entire Lord Keshav Dev temple complex, and Gulal is applied to the deity as a symbol of the beginning of the Holi festivities. Even the Prasad that is offered to Thakurji that day is yellow in color, with an abundance of saffron in all sweetmeats. The temple gates are thrown open to devotees around 8:30 in the morning and thousands queue up to play Holi with their beloved Kanha. The priests shower devotes with gulal and color on behalf of Krishna and this continues till mid-afternoon.

In Vrindavan, the doors of the famous BasantiKamra at Shahji Temple are opened to devotees so that they can get a darshan of Sri Radha Raman, decked in the colors of spring, while seated on a gem studded palanquin. The shimmering chandeliers, the multi colored glass and the sparkling fountains add to the beauty of this divine darshan. On Vasant Panchami, most of the dishes of the chappanbhog (56 different food items) offered to Lord Krishna are yellow in color marking the advent of spring and the beginning of Holi.

At Barsana, the idol of Radha Rani is dressed up in the colors of spring before she makes an appearance to shower the devotees with love and gulal. Not just Barsana, even Nandgaon, Baldev and also the little villages that dot the countryside, everywhere people apply the first gulal on Vasant Panchami to mark the start of this very colorful festival. Devotees bring out their dholaks and start singing Phaag the traditional songs of Holi. Revelers go about in groups or tolissinging, dancing and just letting go; inviting people to be a part of this colorful festival, and be a part of Krishna himself. As if to say this is just the first day of Holi, the festivities have just begin, join in and in the next one month you will be one with the universe, with the deity himself.

Read more about Braj ki Holi or Brij Ki Holi