In India, it’s Holi today, the festival of colours. A day when you will never have the same tint you left home with. Dry colours, wet colours, greasy colours, difficult-to-wash colours: whatever you have, take it and go throw it on your friends. They reply in kind, and you share a hearty laugh and a hug thereafter. The perfect day for propagating brotherhood, or sisterhood, as the case may be (when women play Holi, it is usually accompanied with shrieks of triumph, apart from the usual laughs). Then of course, worship, and sweets. Lots of sweets. In northern India, the Gujiya (a kind of pie, you may say) is the most popular: a sweet mix of flour, sugar and raisins encased in a hard layer of flour. Mouth-watering, even as I type this.
However, in recent times, this wonderful festival has been associated with things that mar it’s beauty and the message of love. People throw colour at anybody these days, be it strangers, passers-by: people who might not be interested in you doing that to them. One of the greater flaws in the festivities is forcing the festival upon the unwilling: people who just don’t wish to take part (who’re ill, in grief for a lost kin, or otherwise in not a proper state to celebrate), are especially targeted by the revellers. I don’t know why, perhaps it is insensitivity, and perhaps it is sadism.
And then of course, there’s the booze. Not a drinking fests, but drinking orgies. So what can booze do to you on Holi? I’m not sure what it can do to you, but I see men acting like monkeys, tearing off their clothes (and of their friends who’re not so willing to do the same), and molesting women. Yes, you read that right, molesting women. It is something that most people hardly notice, but of course, it is all very convenient to do under the garb of celebrating a festival. And then, there are people who justify all this. All this, in the name of a Holi. Oh, and I didn’t even touch the hazards of the toxic dyes used in all these colours. Dyes that can trigger dermatitis and skin cancer.
Holi, like many sacred Hindu festivals, is a day when we celebrate the victory of good over evil. But the inappropriate ways of celebrating it in the new century has maligned it, so much that I wish to stay put in my room today rather than celebrating my once-favourite festival. Because hey, I’m not interested in walking back from the University playground to my room semi-naked, thank you.
You can find more information about the festival here.