In Mathura, where Lord Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. The festival here signifies that all our desires should be diverted for the attainment of Krishna or God-consciousness and for the welfare of society and its service.
The famous events of the area are the Latthmar Holi in Barasana and Nandgaon; Range Bharni Ekadashi; Colorful Holi celebration in Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan; Widow’s Holi; Holika Dahan; Dhulandi Holi and celebrations in Mathura Vrindavan temples; Huranga in Dauji temple of Mathura; Rang Panchami etc.
During this event, participants organise a bonfire or Holika Dahan, throw coloured powder at each other, and celebrate Holi with festivities, dance and singing. In most areas, for Holi, people join in irrespective of age, gender, status, and caste.
The legend in Mathura is that during spring, when flowers were in full bloom, Krishna played the flute and all the senses of residents came together to create divinity and the gopis spontaneously danced to that music on the sands of the Yamuna and in the garden of Vrindavan.
Regarding the relationship between Radha and Krishna as an example of the highest and purest love, Sri Swami Krishnananda says,”The specific significance that is attached to the relationship between Sri Krishna and Radha is the supernal love that operates in this mysterious relation between God and the world. The world is ruled by love, which is the quintessence of God. The basic stuff of God’s being may be said to be love, joy, delight, bliss, ananda. But man, being what he is, can interpret this joy or delight, this satisfaction or love, this affection or pull, only in terms of his experiences.”
Gaudiya Vaishnavism theology claims that Radha’s love for Krishna symbolizes the soul’s intense longing and willingness for the ultimate unification with God to become the undivided form. The central point of the theology is related to the word ‘rasa’ and Chaitanya school of Vaishnavism frequently quotes: “Truly, the Lord is rasa”. This statement expresses the view that Krishna is the one who enjoys the ultimate rasa or spiritual rapture.
In the sixteenth century, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the combined form of Radha and Krishna was created with maha-mantra: ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare’. In this mantra, Hare is the vocative form of Hara, another name for Radharani.
According to Sadguru Sri Nannagaru, “Body-boundedness melts when you think of God. Like Radha, by constant remembrance of God Krishna, finally there is no Radha only Krishna remains. When we have pure love as Radha had towards Krishna, why wouldn’t we attain salvation? Even Radha did not wish for salvation, she just loved him for love.”