There are several legends on Holi which find mentions in Hindu mythology. Holi is regarded to be the opening festival of the Hindu calendar. The famous stories or sagas related to this festival are stated below:
Legend of Radha-Krishna: Krishna, being the mischievous child of Yashuda, was a prankster and was also the creator of many legends for himself. He once asked his mother - why is Radha fair and I am Dark? Mother Yashuda replied to him saying – If you are so much jealous of Radha’s color than go and put dark colors on her and she will also turn dark as you so. Lord Krishna went ahead and did the same. Since then each lover usually puts color on his/her beloved to pay homage to Lord Krishna.
Legend on Pootana: When the female demoness called Pootana tried to kill boy Krishna, by giving him her poisoned nipples to suckle. The miracle boy Krishna is said to have sucked her nipples so intensely that he drained the demoness of her life.
Hence, the biggest celebration of Holi takes place at Mathura where this incident happened with Krishna. After the death of demoness Pootana, people of Mathura till date celebrates this festival in the evening by lighting bourn fire.
Legends of king Hiranyakashyapu: Hiranyakashyapu was the strongest demon of his times; he was considered to be the winner of all God’s whomsoever he fought with became a loser at the end of the battle. So he ordered everybody that everybody should obey him and worship him instead of Almighty. He in his family had one sister named Hollika and one son named Pralhad, who was a great devotee of Lord Naarayana. However, Pralhad had disobeyed his father’s order of treating Lord Naarayana as God.
Thus, Hiranyakashyapu discussed this matter with her sister who had the boon granted to her that; Fire will not do any harm to her body no matter what the situation is. Latter, she took the responsibility to burn Pralhad by placing him on her legs and sitting on fire. She did exactly the same and guess what? Prahalad came out from the fire unharmed. As ‘he’ had his faith on God he continuously chanted Vishnu mantras instead fire catch hold of Holika who was granted the so called boon. Since that day people light bourn fire in temples and celebrate Holi on the death of the demoness.
Brij Ki Holi / Lath Mar Holi: Two towns namely Nandagow (where Lord Krishna grew up) and Barsana (where Shri Radha grew up), near Mathura, are considered (till today) as the epicenter of the Holi celebrations. In India it is famously known as BRIJ KI HOLI / LATH MAR HOLI.
While Lord Krishna was growing up in Vraj, he popularized the festival with his pranks. Where he played Holi with Gopies of Vraj and they also responded him with equal enthusiasm and the festivities have continued ever since. So, continuing this ritual Men and Women of Vraj even today clash in a colorful display of battle of the sexes. Men of Nandagow raid Barsana with hopes of raising their flag over Shri Radhikaji's temple. They receive a thunderous welcome as the women of Barsana greet them with long wooden sticks. The men are soundly beaten as they attempt to rush through town to reach the relative safety of Shri Radhikaji's temple. Men are well padded, as they are not allowed to retaliate. In this mock battle the men try their best not to be captured. Unlucky captives can be forcefully lead away, thrashed and dressed in female attire before being made to dance as a custom. This type of Holi is famously known as “Lath Mar Holi”!!