Holi: Licence for hooliganism?
Posted by Sudha Shashwati
Picture this: A week into holi and one is afraid to step out. Water balloons, mud water balloons, eggs and many other things (including condoms I have heard) filled with water and colour can land on you out of nowhere, Delhi being Delhi and Holi being Holi.
Picture this too: 2 days into Holi and one has to step out to get the data card recharged, and one does since the shop is a one minute walk from the PG. Narrow escape from 3 water balloons. Narrow escape for the parents’ of those tween boys, too- they were spared a long lecture on teaching kids how to enjoy with responsibility.
Now picture this: Holi is here. No escape possible because the landlady herself calls me to have breakfast with the family. But before I am allowed to touch anything out of the lavish spread, I must partake in the ‘celebrations’. Colours smeared on lips and stuffed into nose. Water thrown at me from a pipe. I run downstairs to bath again and come back for breakfast only after repeated assurances that the thing won’t be repeated. I bless my PG owners for the delectable food and think that the taste and the satisfaction will overweigh the effort and money that will go into washing the clothes this evening and replacing the lenses of spectacles before the mid semester break gets over. Yours truly is wrong. This time, before I am allowed to run downstairs, I am made to stand in front of the water pipe for a good 3 minutes and plead for mercy to my phone and watch.
That’s my Holi experience this year, giving me all the more reasons to hate it more than I ever had. To a reader who doesn’t know me personally, this may sound very silly- after all isn’t this festival meant to be a day when you let yourself loose and just enjoy? But the reader may not be aware that I have never been able to make sense out of first getting yourself and your clothes dirty for 3 hours and then spending another 3 hours to clean up. Fine, this wasn’t as bad as it could be but the very fact that it all happened without my consent serves my hating this festival. Talking of letting loose and enjoying, how are you supposed to be able to enjoy being thrown mud or being thrown into a water tank? Let’s not talk about alcohol and shit here which are other popular Holi ammunition.
One may ask- Isn’t this day a part of our rich cultural tradition? My answer- I have never caught up with how all sorts of propriety in interacting with strangers, especially ladies, come to vanish into thin air on this day, granting license to hooliganism, so the culture part is out of the question. Surely, those of our ancestors who were the first to play Holi didn’t mean it to be a day when you harass random ladies who chance to pass your street, when you play pranks with strangers and laugh it off!
The biggest joke on all those who use the excuse of ‘Holi Hai’ to run amok with hooliganism- The International Women’s day coincided with Holi this year. I would love to know how many ladies felt empowered on the day.
Of course, I am not asking for avoiding Holi altogether. One can always enjoy with one’s family. Play only with your friends and relatives and don’t kill the spirit of this festival by harassing those non-willing. Set a good example for the kids in your family and teach them how to have a good time even while staying within limits.
P.S. There is always a right way and another easy way to do things. Our choice reflects who we are, even in something trivial like the way we play Holi. Think it over.