Mathura/Vrindavan: Getting pawed during Holi revelry is not the flirtatious 'chhed chhad' one associates with Lord Krishna in his dalliance with the gopis.

The charm of the colourful extravaganza is fast fading among the women of Vrindavan and Mathura, who now confine themselves to their homes following the fear of getting groped by men on Holi, say locals.

Holi is gaining a dubious distinction of being the festival of sour experiences, and losing its purity with which it was once played, says a young shopkeeper opposite the Iskcon Temple in Vrindavan.

“A few years back, we used to be very excited about going to the Banke Bihari Temple to play Holi. People used to make sure it was very clean... but these days if one plans to go, he or she should go at their own risk,” Bajaj said.

“It has become a serious concern for us. We feel insecure to allow our sisters or even mother to go out and play because a lot of indecent activities take place. We prefer to have a family get-together and have healthy fun,” he added.

Fifteen-year-old Payal Gupta, among the few local girls dressed in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt in Mathura's Krishna Janma Bhoomi Temple, admits Holi now brings a sense of fear rather than fun in girls like her.

“As Holi gets closer, we are not allowed to step out of the house without parents' permission. The famous Lath Maar Holi happens here at the Krishna Janma Bhoomi Temple, but we can only come here with our parents as otherwise, we could face harassment,” said Gupta.

Police say they are helpless to check the nuisances caused by the Holi revelers.

The Holi celebrations in the Uttar Pradesh region begin much before the festivities kickstart in other parts of India.

The Lath Maar Holi, where the women of Barsana hit men with lathis (sticks) and men shield themselves, started on March 14, and will culminate in the compound of Mathura's Krishna Janma Bhoomi Temple on March 16.

The preparations are already in full swing - as a stage is being set for a cultural programme. Electrical sprinklers are being set up to throw dry gulaal (red colour) in all directions to soak the revelers in colour.

Holi at the Banke Bihari temple will be a five-day affair starting on Ekadashi, March 16, and will be played till March 20.

Though dry gulaal and yellow colour from tesu flower are the norm here, people outside the temple do not hesitate to play Holi with mud or drain water - making it unpleasant for those wanting to step out and just enjoy.

(Agencies)