Water balloons, colours, the celebration of good over evil – I understand the affinity readers may have for Holi. But what if I say I get high on a marijuana-based bhang and for every action, I have the explanation, “Bura na maano, Holi hai (Don’t mind, it’s Holi).” Is this justified just because of tradition?
With the festival around the corner, we should pay attention to what goes in in the name of celebration, such as fondling women. Inappropriate touches finally find an explanation, hiding behind tradition. You have loud music, faces covered in colour, ensuring neither your voice gets heard, nor can you recognise the delinquent. Add a crowded place and the environment gives a perfect cover to intoxicated and rowdy people who we find in headlines for molestation charges every year.
Let’s face it, it’s not just women. Not everyone prefers to go outside on festival day because natural colours no longer exist; it’s just balloons filled with chemicals and they are strong colours you cannot get rid of so easily. Plastic bags ensure you feel pain, eggs are used, whose shells are meant to hurt. A festival that was meant to bespeak happiness instead causes aches you emotionally and physically. With children being the easiest targets, they’re abused again by adults because they just don’t have a say. Not only are the chemical-based colours harmful to their skin but they are often toxic, containing lead oxide, copper sulphate, aluminium bromide, Prussian blue, mercury sulphide to list a few. Weather statistics for the day after Holi show increase in particulate matter suspended in the air, one of the major causes of breathing problems like asthma.
And how can we forget the abuse of mother earth? Factually speaking, an average person uses 30 litres of water on Holi and even if just 5 lakh people use that amount, it makes for 150 lakh litres flowing into all the drains in a country where people suffer from acute water shortages. Chemicals get embedded in soil and their base makes them non-degradable, hence staying in the soil for years, even polluting groundwater. Plastics, of course, are known to be non-biodegradable as well and they’ve been a clear replacement for balloons, also blocking sewage pipes.
Gone are the times when the essence of Holi was celebration and joviality. When herb and flower based colours’ aroma made your smile brighter. Roaming intoxicated on the streets and hitting people with plastic and toxic waters to me is what makes Holi rather unholy. I perceive people applying colours not with tenderness but with their shades of grey. It is a day of happiness and fun and the celebration of good over evil. Let’s not be evil ourselves and enjoy responsibly.