Bursts of colour and festivities — most people could do with a bit of this after the doom and gloom of the last few months, from the economy to politics. But for many of us, especially women, the festival of Holi is somewhat frightening. Many people, largely men, use this occasion to indulge in all manner of unsocial behaviour with scant regard to the pain it causes others. For a start, only the brave will venture out into the streets on Holi for one is likely to encounter posses of drunken men wildly celebrating in a way only they enjoy. This involves forcibly smearing colour on others, especially hapless women, and using the opportunity to molest them. Flinging water-filled balloons from balconies on innocent passersby is a pastime which begins well before Holi. Often, the colours being sold are spurious and lead to painful skin problems.
Forcing people to come out of their homes to play Holi is another phenomenon, though mercifully largely confined to north India. None of this suggests the joy of the changing seasons. But then we seem to have the knack of turning most of our lovely festivals into something which inspires dread rather than rejoicing. An example is Diwali, where the motto now appears to be the louder and more polluting the better. But this is not to cast a dampener on your Holi.
Fortunately, the younger generation is far more aware than their elders of the need for an inclusive and safe Holi. They are the ones pitching for safe colours and restraint in the celebrations. This is a message that is being actively promoted in schools today. They are also far more inclined to share their joy with those less fortunate than an earlier and more selfish generation. However, those determined to rain on others’ parade with their intrusive antics must be dealt with severely by the police. No excuse that their misconduct was the result of exuberance should be entertained. It is only when such miscreants know that they cannot enjoy the licence to harass in the name of Holi that the festival will once again become inclusive and enjoyable. We wish all our readers a safe and happy Holi.