THE OTHER SIDE OF HOLI
The trees have all shed their leaves. Nature is waiting to spring its vernal splendour on them. The never-get-stale annual phenomenon calls for celebration. Holi is one such festival celebrating the end of harsh winter of north India and the welcome advent of spring. Understandably the profusion of colour is reflected in the colour play of Holi.
Earlier, people perhaps used safe, homemade vegetable colours in liquid form to be sprayed on their friends and relatives. But, as time went, as Holi became more commercial, the callous chemical colours made their entry with utter disregard to the effect on skins and their uses were accompanied by drugs, alcohol and hooliganism.( I was shocked to hear that 145 children who played Holi have their skin damaged ).
In my younger days, Holi in Bangalore would mean a few street urchins dabbed in colours would ask for money and walk away with any wood available in our yards after blackmailing us with abusive limericks like ‘Kamanna kattige…’ to burn Kamanna (Cupid) in a bonfire in the night. The householders would never indulge in the ‘colour play’. But things changed after North Indians migrated to South.
My first introduction to ‘Holi’ in its true colours (!) was traumatic enough for me to abhor the festival for life. I was a young bride, two months pregnant, when the dreaded festival dawned on our military training unit. I tried to lock myself in the bathroom to avoid the big group of trainees all armed with colours. I was not successful. To my great shock, I was dragged out of the house, the coloured water was poured down my back, dry colours were slapped on my face and a hundred hands with powder patted all over my body. The experience was too much for my poor, unformed baby and I lost him.
Ever since, I have always avoided the festival. There have been times when we have locked the house from the front and stayed put inside throughout the day.
While other festivals are observed with religious fervor and devotion, playing Holi is a violation of human privacy and values. While I appreciate the significance behind Holi, I seriously wish the ‘playing Holi’ is banned. I certainly cannot appreciate the spirit in which it has come to be ‘played’.