This festival of colors, Holi, is being celebrated all over India since ancient times. Holi is celebrated on the day after Gaura Purnima. On this day, their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Gopinath are dressed in special Holi outfits, and all the eight gopis (Astha Sakhis) Lalita, Vishaka, Chitra, Champakalata, Tungavidya, Ranga Devi and Sudevi manifest on the altar with colors and water cannons in their hands. As the sun starts to appear on the western horizon, the devotees eagerly wait for Srimati Radharani and Lord Krishna to manifest in their small deity forms. The pujaris bring the deities dressed in colorful garments and ornamented with colorful fragrant flowers, accompanied with a melodious kirtan. The eagerly waiting devotees welcome them by bowing down their heads, and loudly chanting ‘Hare Krishna’ Haribol!’ The deities are then placed on the altar surrounded by dozens of plates filled with natural colors. The devotees and the guests come forward to smear colors on Radha and Krishna accompanied with the tumultuous chanting of the holy names of the Lord in the background. As the kirtan picks up pace, buckets of fragrant colored water arrive along with water cannons. Then the devotees start bathing Radha and Krishna with colored water, assisted by the pujaris. As their Lordships enjoy the bathing, the sight of the colorful offerings of the devotees gliding down their divine bodies is simply a spectacle to behold. The reverbeating sound of the devotees chanting the holy names, adds to the bliss, sanctifying the whole atmosphere.
It is believed that tradition of playing with colors on this day draws its roots from the pastime of Radha and Krishna. Once young and dark complexioned Krishna who was jealous of Radha’s fair complexion questioned his mother Yashoda on the darkness of his complexion. Yashoda, teasingly asked him to color Radha’s face in colors of his choice. In a mischievous mood, Krishna applied color on Radha’s face. We can’t imitate this mood but devotees also participate in this loving exchange of applying colors and express love for each other.