"This is infringement of our ancient culture," Mathura Prasad Kaushik, a priest at the Daan Ghati temple, said.
A veteran in the popular Ram Lila act, Shankar Lal Chaturvedi criticised the event, saying, "It would have been better if they (widows) had offered colour and gulal to Thakur ji (Lord Krishna). The manner in which they smeared face of each other with gulal is not good".
In the past, widows living in the ashrams played Holi only with 'thakurji' (Lord Krishna). Around 800 widows participated in the festivities organised by Sulabh International in ashrams of Vrindavan.
Its founder Bindeshwar Pathak had said, "Vrindavan Holi is an effort to free widows from the shackles of age-old tradition. Not only will the widows play Holi, they will also participate in cultural programmes".
Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in the religious city keeping in mind the huge crowds it draws during the festival. "The security at the centre of Holi celebrations, especially in and around temples, has been beefed up. Police in plain clothes have also been deployed at sensitive places," SSP Pradeep Yadav said.