During the last two days of Holi, lots of women came forward to speak about the harassment they had to face. It started with the incident of semen-filled balloons being flung at women in Delhi University.
In the north, some use the occasion of Holi as an opportunity to grope neighbourhood aunties and girls. This has been evident for a long time. People were told not to take it seriously, because after all, “Bura na maano, Holi hai (Don’t mind, it’s Holi!)!”
What has changed is that there are more venues today for women to come forward and share such incidents.
This has probably offended many men, maybe due to their guilty conscience. Some of them started the parody story of being attacked by girls with period blood.
This wasn’t the end of it; a lot of them got together and made the women’s accounts look like a move to defame the Hindu festival and that worked. A lot of right wing Hinduvta supporters joined the chorus to howl the same.
Suddenly, the discussion no longer centered on women and what they had to face. Instead, people started peddling the idea that it was all a conspiracy – false stories meant to defame the festival. The publications ScoopWhoop and Youth Ki Awaaz received a lot of hate for publishing such stories. #BlockScoopWhoop was trending for some time. The best technique to stop all discussions regarding such incidents was to bring religious colours into the conversation.
Posts with the hashtag #HoliNotHooliganism paved the way for the conversations regarding stories of harassment to proceed forward. The idea was to create awareness among people that it’s not acceptable to harass someone in the name of a festival.
The self-proclaimed nationalists think that hooliganism is an integral part of Holi but it is an attack on the very tradition that they are claiming to protect.