While the spirit of Holi takes over Braj from Basant Panchami itself, Phulera Dooj which was celebrated on March 8 this year, marked the beginning of the main festivities in Radhavallabh temple.
Phulera Dooj falls on the second day of the light fortnight in the month of Phalgun. ‘Phulera’ comes from the Hindi word ‘Phool’ (flowers). In North India people celebrate this festival by playing Holi with flowers.
On this day every year, Shri Radhavallabh Lal is dressed in a white ‘poshak’. A white ‘phenta’ (cummerbund/girdle) with a pouch of ‘Gulal’ (coloured powder) is tied around his waist to indicate that he all set for ‘the big event’, the five-day Holi starting on Rangbharani Ekadashi (March 17).
Thereafter, the girdle is regularly tied to Thakurji’s waist and his cheeks are smeared with the colours of Holi. (Here, it is interesting to note that during the Lathmaar Holi played in Barsana and Nandagaon, men tie a similar girdle with ‘Gulal’ pouches around their waists.)
Starting with the ‘Shringaar Aarti’ on March 8, devotees thronged the temple to get drenched in Radhavallabh’s ‘Gulal Prasadi’. Music and colours filled the atmosphere as Rasik saints sang the ‘Rasiya’, ‘Phaag’ and other Holi ‘padas’ in tune with the ‘Daph’ (Indian percussion instrument similar to the tambourine).