This is about some harrowing experiences I’ve had while celebrating Holi. I am from south India. and the majority from here do not celebrate Holi. I have had to face some untoward incidents during Holi for the past few years. Unfortunately, I had to face them in my workplace, which is very disturbing. Almost half of the employees are from outside the state, and many are eager to celebrate with great joy and show.
Last year, a gang of them came to my seat and hugged me from the back. It was an ambush and I had spread some of my important work-related files. Before I realised who they were, they started laughing, and were about to apply colours on my cheeks.
I started shouting fiercely and I started to push them away. They could not colour my face because of that, but they were justifying the colouring and touching by saying it is all a part of Holi. So? This is my working area. I am liable to be questioned for my files.
They were not backing off. And, one guy, who joined newly, said, “I’ll just put a tika.” He didn’t even ask for my consent. My body language and my shouting should have made them see sense, but they were so adamant. Finally, I shouted strongly and gave one strong push. Then, they left and gave a scornful look.
Oh please, I do not care why you did it and I do not care about Holi and your intentions.
The sudden shock and the position I was in, to safeguard myself and my files in a flash of a second, was really frightening and humiliating. Besides, the incident had left me in a position to react so wildly. I did not want to shout or push my colleagues, but they gave me no option.
This incident left me conscious of how Holi would be celebrated the following year. My apprehensions came true. This year too, these gangs came, and once again I had to shout at them. They were forcing the staff from other religions to get colour applied, or else get a tika atleast. They were chasing the people. through every corridor and colouring them.
They did not care about other person’s boundary, hygiene, chemicals, working files, dress, and especially the outbreak of the coronavirus. What they wanted was only fun. It was ok for them to tease some and violate some to have fun. Because, it is religion and culture, so who dares to question it?
Fortunately, I was able to save myself physically. But, fear and embarrassment are still hovering. I do not know what they’ll do next year. It could be much worse. What makes it worse is that it happens inside the office premises. I have made a representation of this to the authorities and am still awaiting an outcome.
It is very unfortunate that a festival of colours and joy has turned to something for me to be conscious of. I can only think of taking leave and staying indoors or despise those who are celebrating it. The outrageous laughter after they colour someone without their consent is really disturbing. I feel that the festival of colours has turned into a festival of stains.