Each year at the Dauji Temple, in the village of Baldev, India (25 km from Mathura), a remarkable event takes place as part of the continuing celebration of Holi.
A day after Holi, Baldev, the Dauji (elder brother) of Krishna is propitiated. Baldev is a quick tempered, brave and strong warrior, but not very adept at love play as is Krishna. At Baldev’s celebration of Holi, the gopis (cowgirls) of Braj (only the married daughter-in-laws–not mother-in-laws) get an opportunity to taunt and humiliate the male descendants of the Dauji (they must be married--can be son-in-laws but not father-in-laws) by ripping their upper garments and beating them with the rags. The men tease the women by singing lurid song and throwing colored water on them. An enthusiastic crowd, standing on the walls above, joins the hysteria by throwing colored powder and mica dust.
The festival begins with children, dressed up as Krishna and Dauji sitting next to the chief priest on a raised area with the musicians and singers. A procession led by 14 priests arrives from the temple precincts. At the head of the procession is a man riding a phallic hobbyhorse accompanied by two men bearing tree branches. As the procession moves clockwise, seven times around the temple, the women attack the men. At the moment the procession enters, the temple courtyard is flooded with water that has been dyed by soaking flame-of-the-forest flower petals. The festival ends with the men exiting with the horseman through the front.
Photographer Robyn Beeche helped me make this photograph by wrapping me in many layers of cloth to protect me and my cameras from the children who were throwing water and colored powder. Still, I lost one camera to the gods. —Cary Wolinsky, May 25, 1997