Two days before Holi, everyone was celebrating the International Women’s Day. The ideas of respect, consent, equal rights for women doing rounds went out of the door on Holi. The next day, right after Women’s day, a reign of Holi terror was unleashed on every street.
While I was walking to my office a day before Holi, two boys approached me on the bike and threw balloons filled with water and colours, and the bystanders were smiling and laughing. One balloon hit my stomach so hard that it caused me severe pains. After reading this, you might think, “What’s new in this? Yeh to hota hi hai.” (It happens.)
Yeah, ye hota hi hai. It’s not happening with me for the first time. But I remember the time when I used to love this festival. Belonging to a Muslim family, I don’t get to play Holi with my family; however, I used to urge my friends at school and tuition to bring colours to play.
That was two years ago; today, I don’t even think of going out during Holi.
It was the day before Holi and I had an English examination scheduled that day. I finished writing my examination and left the examination hall before time. We started playing with colours. A man approached me and his hand full of colours reached all the way inside my collar and groped my shoulders from the other hand. When I pushed his hand away, he simply smiled and walked away saying, “Bura na mano Holi hai.” (Chill, it’s Holi!)
Holi, the festival of colours, has a long history behind its celebration. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil. The two-day festival of Holi begins with the ceremonial burning of the demon Holika.
But on the same day, many demons roam around freely harassing women. The festival which was supposed to be for enjoyment and celebration has turned into a matter of insecurity and fear for lots of women.
As a woman grows up, she gradually realizes that this festival isn’t meant for her but for men to take advantage of the occasion and do hooliganism.
It hasn’t stayed limited to applying colours without consent. It has gotten worse with time. There are numerous incidents of women being hit by semen-filled balloons instead of water.
I didn’t step outside of my house yesterday, and from next year onwards, I don’t think I’ll step out even two days before Holi.