Huranga: The essence of playful retaliation
Amongst all other festivals, Holi holds a special place in our hearts. With the onset of spring, the colourful splash of colours set the ultimate mood for merriment. While the celebration lasts for a day for most of us, Mathura extends its ritual to the next day with its unique pinch of tradition.
Celebrating Huranga on the premises of the Dauji Temple; Image Source- India Today

Holi Stories- Huranga

Amrita was waiting for her cab to arrive in the wee hour. The excitement of enjoying Holi with family and friends diminished to exhaustion now that she had to rush back to work. "Well, that's the story of every photojournalist," wondered Amrita. She was going to Mathura to cover the post-Holi celebration of Huranga. With the limited amount of results on the internet, she thought it might as well be best to witness the event firsthand.

The next couple of hours zoomed by as Amrita observed the changing landscape from Delhi's urbanscape to a relatively quaint one of Mathura. As they were closing in on their location, the Dauji temple, Amrita could feel the buzz of the festivities in the air. Apart from the regular hustle-bustle, the crowd of devotees had knowing smiles plastered on their faces. Amrita couldn't help but share their excitement.

Amrita quietly made it to the terrace to capture the entirety of the temple complex. Slowly, the crowd of devotees burgeoned, and it looked like the morning darshan was about to come to an end. Her suspicions came true when she noticed a group of men carrying buckets of colour-mixed water. Without as much as a warning, all the men started splashing women with pichkaris or buckets full of water.
The playful retaliation of women by tearing off the shirts of men; Image Source - Scroll

Amrita guessed the women would retaliate soon, and their following action astounded her. The womenfolk then stripped the shirts off men and whipped them with it in good faith. The loud vibrations of hootings and laughter made her realise that this was their classic Huranga style of celebrating Holi.

Watching the temple compound turn into a battlefield with men often grouping up to save themselves from the colourful attacks of women had Amrita giggling occasionally.

After she got all the possible shots to cover the event, Amrita watched as the celebration slowly frizzled out. Seeing the massive crowd dispersing leisurely, Amrita thought it was safe to go back downstairs. On her way, Amrita was curious about something. Noticing the matron Pandit of the temple, she considered him the ideal person to clear her doubt.

On further enquiry, Pandit ji enlightens Amrita that the concept of Huranga is to uphold Krishna's playful Raasleela with a twist. The usual picture of Raasleela tells us that it is always Krishna and his companions who prank and trouble the Gopis. Huranga reverses the tradition, giving the women a chance to indulge in playful retaliation for all the pranks played by menfolk.
The air of joy and merriment that Huranga promises; Image Source- Rgyan
"That explains their peculiar way of celebration," thought Amrita. With a few parting words and farewell wishes, Amrita embarked on the journey back home. The return journey had her going back to the thoughts of today's colourful experience and merriment.
Leha Biswas Author
The crooked awkward cookie who loves to procrastinate but is driven by random bouts of ambition while daydreaming of a loaded future. Yass! That's me.

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