What does Holi mean for most women in cities and towns? That time of the year, when balloons will be hurled at them from balconies and terraces, not only when they are walking on the road but also when they are travelling by local train or rickshaws. Any woman is easy prey.
Thousands of gallons of water is wasted in urban housing societies, in this ‘balloon hurling-water wasting’ activity that starts almost 10 days before Holi, under the ‘watchful and guiding’ eyes of parents, especially mothers. Then there will be kids running around with a plastic AK47 and squirt all kinds of coloured water on unsuspecting passerby, more often than not, young girls and women. Who bought these gun pichkaris for them? No prizes for guessing!
And then as the day of Holi nears you hear the chant- Bura Na Mano Holi Hai. Really? Does anything go in the name of Holi ? Hold a girl against her will? Then as she struggles put colour on her face and hair? And also take the opportunity while she is struggling to grope her? And then just chant- Bura Na Mano Holi Hai? Disgusting. And this is glorified in our movies, our television serials and in our housing societies. And then we light candles and go on marches for women safety.
‘Orebhai fagun legechche bone bone’
Rabindranath Tagore penned this which translates as- ‘Oh see brothers fhagun has coloured the forests’ Holi is a reminder to farmers that the earth will soon be ready for tilling. Birds collect twigs to build nests, and people celebrate the season of hope launched by Holi . The festival of joy- of singing together and dancing to express happiness as mother earth wraps herself in fresh colours. Where is all of this in today’s Holi celebrations? Why do we and our children not celebrate Holi in the magic form as given above? When did Holi, the festival of joy turn into this? Why are we not doing something about it?
Anthropologically the symbolic burning of the Holika—with which the festival begins—is perceived as the end of all the bad things of the past, and people look forward to renewal and good tidings. This Holi lets begin a new chapter, let’s change the way Holi is celebrated and then imitated by our young children. Lets maximize joy while protecting culture, harnessing nature and upholding safety especially of women and young girls.
1. Play with dry, organic colours.
2. Ban the slogan, Bura Na Mano Holi Hai.
3. Teach children to ask others before playing with them.
4. Teach young children not to allow others to touch them if they don’t want to play. Remember it is during Holi that kids will get groped, molested and abused.
5. Teach children and young girls that allow only known friends to put dry colour on your cheeks and nowhere else.
6. Please do not support balloon throwing in your society and home. Save water.
7. Do not buy gun shaped pichkari for your child, what value are you instilling in your child with a gun pointed at others, even if it is a water filled gun?
8. Think of Holi as the end of bad and beginning of new, so think of all your bad habits and write them on a piece of paper and tear it up.
9. Sing, dance and enjoy the company of friends with jalebi. You don’t require the wastage of water to enjoy this festival. Our villages have drought, be sensitive.
10. Women and girls should object to songs like rang barse, kitna maaza aa raha hai etc that make the festival look like it is all about boys colouring the girl to make her dreams come true. Come on women, stand up.
So this Holi lets move from horrific Holi celebrations to Holistic fhagun celebrations. Happy Holi . And make your new slogan- Play Holi With Me Only If I Want To. – Bura Na Mano, Mujhe Nahi Khelna Holi !
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