The holy land of Braj which is known for the transcendental pastimes of Lord Krishna goes colorful throughout the phalguna month due to its world famous phag (holi) mahotsava. The beauty and craze of this phag mahotsava touches its extreme pleasure during the last half of the bright lunar fortnight in Phalguna month. The world famous Rangeeli holi of Barsana is the major attraction of this Phag Mahotsava.
On the 8th day of bright lunar fortnight in chaitra the famous Ladoo holi is celebrated in the famous Shriji temple of Barsana where in the evening the special darshan of Shriji (Radharani) is open to all the devotees who eagerly waits in the crowded temple choir for the blessings of Ladliji (Radharani). Few days before the invitation blessed by Shri Ladlilal is sent from the Shriji temple on the behalf of people of Barsana to invite the gopas (cowherd men) of Nandgaon for the Lathmar holi in Rangeeli gali of Barsana near Shriji temple. To approve this invitation of Lathmar holi on the behalf of people of Nandgaon, the main panda (Brahman) of Nandgaon comes to Shriji temple Barsana, where he is welcomed by the shower of Ladoos and the rasiyas (holi songs in brajbhasha). Pleased by the welcome in Barsana, the panda dances with joy and showers the Ladoos over the devotees as the blessings of Sri Radharani. A thick cloud of gulal and colour shadows the whole temple premises and the whole environment is filled with the cheers of joy and the chants of the glory of Radhe-Krishna. The devotees not only from different parts of India but also from other countries crowd the temple premises to witness this beautiful and colorful event and are pleased by the divine blessings of Lord Radha and Krishna.
The very next day on the 9th day of the bright lunar fortnight Lathmar holi is celebrated with great humor and pomp in the Rangeeli gali of Barsana. After getting the invitation from Barsana, the group of gopas (cowherd men) from Nandgaon arrives early morning to play Lathmar holi with the gopis (cowherd maiden) of Barsana in Rangeeli gali. These gopas come well dressed and prepared with their shields to enjoy and cherish the every moment of this colorful and humorous event. During this Lathmar holi the gopas, who try to put colour on gopis and teases them with their humorous comments are beaten by them with lathis (bamboo staffs). Gopas try to defend themselves with their shields. Thus this beautiful festival of colour and humor is enjoyed by all (including children, old people and young ones). During this Lathmar holi in Barsana the temple gates of Nandrae temple in Nandgaon are closed, as its believed that the Lord Krishna himself comes in the disguise of Gopa to play holi with his beloved Radharani. This Rangeeli holi mahotsava was started first time in 16th century after the manifestation of the vigraha (deity) of Shriji (Radharani) by Gaudiya Vaishnava Narayan Bhatt, when first time gopis (cowherd maiden) played holi with gopas using the sticks made up of flowers. But nearly after two decades these flower sticks turned into bamboo staffs and the thus it was named as Lathmar holi. This event is inspired by the pastimes of Lord Krishna and Radha. Thus, despite of the use of lathis and shields this event of Lathmar holi is filled with love and humor which not only enjoyed by the participants but also by the devotees who come from different parts of world just to witness this beautiful moment blessed by the love and divinity of Lord Radha and Krishna..