Falgun or Phagun, the month that marks the end of winter and onset of the season of Basant or Spring. This used to be my favorite time of the year. The environment filled with positivity, happiness, and fun. As a kid, the celebrations of Holi used to start with the beginning of this season, from having water balloons fight to throwing colored water at each other; this was the scene of every evening.
I used to celebrate Holi like there is no tomorrow. Getting up at six in the morning, to filling up those water balloons to planning pranks with my cousins, Holi was my favorite festival. Until one day, when an uncle of mine inserted his hand forcefully inside my top and squeezed my breasts. With colors in his hand and a wide smile on his face, he felt me all over and he wished me “Happy Holi”. I was shocked, I was confused, I was scared; I was a teenager, who just met a monster disguised as a human. It has been years since that Holi, but the memories attached to it are still afresh.
Over the years, this festival has become yet another commercialized stint where people meet, greet and celebrate by applying color on people’s faces and bodies, often without their wish or consent. In fact, putting color on someone’s face and body or making them drenched in the cold water, ‘forcibly’ has become synonymous to this day. The more they resist the more fun it is, right? Because ‘Bura Na Maaano, Holi Hai(please don’t mind, its just Holi!!)’.
Moreover, getting drunk, stoned and behaving in a crass manner are the new norms of this festival. Norms which are being followed religiously by the youth under the pretext of fun. And thanks to the age-old bonhomie between Holi and Bhaang, you can get high in the name of tradition or ritual and do whatever you want, because ‘Bura Na Maaano, Holi Hai’.However, the trauma, the fear is not just limited to one day, it starts a few days before the festival. Holi becomes the perfect breeding environment for pedophiles and perverts to come out and brazenly do whatever they want in the name of Holi.
The cases of girls being harassed on the streets are increasing tremendously. And it’s not just about Delhi, but every street, every lane, every corner of this country witnesses such incidents during this time of the year. In the lowest of the low, some people are even flinging sperm filled balloons at women, which is not only disgusting but also an abhorrent misogynistic act. The festival which earlier used to fill the environment with optimism, ecstasy, and joy, is now all about women trying to protect themselves from such monsters in disguise. While many girls like me are afraid of going out, there are many out there who are facing and fighting such demons bravely. So, girls this year, speak-up if you face any harassment in the name of “Holi”.
Take a stand for yourself!!