It is that time of the year again. Yes, Holi is just knocking on the door. And here I am, pondering over the festival with mixed feelings.
From childhood, given my love for Bollywood, I grew up with a romanticized notion about Holi. I always dreamed of playing Holi, and I got my opportunity only after I came to India for pursuing further studies. And I remember during my first Holi celebration, I played in the colony where I used to live and it was fun. Probably because me, along with the few girls I lived with, got downstairs to play with the kids in neighborhood. It was pure fun. Once I got over my inhibitions, I played with college friends next year and the year next.
But one particular Holi, I encountered a rather unpleasant experience. So, there was one fellow who had a crush on me. But he never had the courage to talk to me face to face. Never. He confessed his feelings to me over Facebook which I politely declined. He continued obsessing over me, but the moment he would come across me, he would be tongue tied. He not only embarrassed me, but also made this topic a regular joke in my friend circle. Now, during Holi probably he found his ‘golden opportunity.’ I was happily playing holi with my friends whom I trusted, and suddenly from nowhere he emerged with color in his hand and applied color on me without even seeking for consent when he was never a part of my friend circle. And let me tell you, it was not like he applied color and went away. He put color all across my face, ignoring my protests and pushed me. I fell off in the mud. Not because they all were in drenched in colors, but because of the malicious grin in their face, I remember thinking how come they are looking so ugly, so vulgar! The worst part of it is my protests and screams were not taken seriously by anyone. He justified saying it was Holi. This experience, needless to say, left me with a bitter taste.
I still don’t look down upon Holi. It is a joyful festival for many. But I strongly believe that some morons need to understand that a NO means a NO! You cannot force people to play Holi with you. Consent matters, be it in playing holi or any other thing. And most importantly, this is for the morons, not applicable for others: It is a festival to play with colors , not to try molesting or groping women. ‘Bura na mano aj holi hai?’ No! Nothing justifies such behavior.
And I am not alone in my experience, I have come across many articles where women narrated their experiences of getting molested during Holi!
Does it mean women cannot enjoy Holi? Not at all! Why should women who love to play Holi give up the celebration because of the actions of some filthy perverts? But then, how to tackle this problem? After all, molestation can happen in the blink of an eye during Holi! I would suggest,if you feel someone is trying to take advantage of the festival and intruding into your privacy, trying to touch you in inappropriate way in the pretext of the festival, don’t stay quiet. Raise your voice, and let them know, a NO is a NO. A bold woman I know and deeply admire shared her opinion in this matter, “I always play Holi with people I’m comfortable with. But yes, i have encountered people who understand a No, but those who don’t, is there anything that we can do? Until their mindset and the whole state of mind doesn’t change, we need to be our own protectors….Be your own Hero“
Wish you all a safe and happy Holi!