Holi hai, bhai Holi hai! Bura Na Mano Holi Hai!’ How often have you heard revellers screaming this when playing Holi? Bollywood movies and songs too have made our faith stronger in the belief that it’s okay to play pranks and ‘nobody will feel bad’ or ‘take offence.’
Holi is one of the most beautiful, fun-filled festivals where colours tend to bind us all. And it is also about savouring mouth-watering delicacies, chugging bhang, meeting friends and relatives, attending Holi parties and dancing to some of the iconic Bollywood tracks.
But a few people take the phrase ‘Bura Na Mano Holi Hai!’ seriously and go a bit too far when playing with colours, and then the fun becomes forced and unpleasant. Incidents of quarrels, fights, injuries and sometimes sexual misconduct have been reported in the past. It wasn’t too long ago, when students in Delhi protested against ‘semen-filled balloons’ being used on Holi and they even called the festival ‘Hooliganism’.
While Holi offers happiness, togetherness and fun, a few youngsters share experiences which aren’t so great.
Here are some of their stories:
MY CAR WAS PAINTED A RAINBOW
My friend had organised a Holi poolside party and I thought of taking my dad’s car to his place. I had parked my dad’s new car within the premises of my friend’s bungalow. Barely after 10 minutes, my friend told me that my car would have to be shifted as it was blocking the guests’ entrance. He insisted that I hand over the keys to him and he would remove the vehicle. I ‘trusted’ him, so I gave him the keys, without knowing what was coming. He returned the keys almost after half an hour later. When the party was over and I headed back to my car, I got the shock of my life. Not only was the exterior painted a rainbow, but the interiors too, including the seats and dashboard, had gulal and wet colours. I lost my cool, but more than that I was terrified about facing my dad. I started arguing with my friend but the others told me that it was done in good humour as part of Holi celebrations. I knew there was no point arguing. I drove away immediately.
— Dheeraj Malwani, 24, architect, Delhi
WATER IN THE TANK WAS RED
I hate the idea of people doing any kind of nonsense in the name of festivity. Two years ago, there was a huge water crisis in Pune and we got water only once a day, sometimes even once in two days. While we all decided to play dry Holi, an intelligent soul living in my society, which is a small one with no vigilant security guards to keep an eye on miscreants, poured red colour in the water tank. We were taken aback when the water coming out from the tap was red. When we checked, we found out that this moron had wasted gallons of water in the name of celebration and it was his way of adding colour to our lives!
— Meeta Karpe, 22, student, Pune
I HAD TO HAVE BHANG
I am a teetotaller and it isn’t funny when others try to force you to drink, knowingly or unknowingly. Bhang, being an ‘integral’ part of Holi celebrations, my friends thought it was necessary for me to have it. A group of friends in my neighbourhood convinced me to have a milkshake that they said was soothing and had no trace of bhang or any intoxicating drink. I believed them and consumed two glassfuls. After an hour or so I started throwing up and felt sick the entire day. I was mad at my friends, but I also became aware of the connotation of the phrase ‘Bura Na Mano Holi Hai!’ People think it is okay to play a prank, but they don’t understand that it can also hurt others.
—Sourabh Goswami, 21, banking official, Kolkata
CONSENT DOES MATTER
There was a time when Holi was about applying a dash of dry colours on the cheeks but later, revellers threw balloons filled with water and colours and sometimes, even eggs, at passersby. But what is more scary is when strangers and even the people around you, including male friends, relatives and neighbours, do not miss out on the chance to touch you inappropriately while they ‘pretend’ to apply colour on you. Even if you refuse them respectfully, they don’t take ‘no’ for an answer and tell you that it is their right to apply colour on your face (read: touch you) and that it is rude on your part to say ‘no’. This continued to happen with me till I was 16 and I felt helpless to a point that I completely stopped playing Holi. To avoid all this, I do not step out from home for two days during Holi.
— Ritu Shil, 20, hotel management, student Bengaluru