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’.


10 thoughts on “THE OTHER SIDE OF HOLI

  1. Sneha says:

    I’m extremely sorry Vimala. I could not agree more with your views…I’ve never played Holi since childhood.
    The way they burn ‘wood’ for ‘Holika’ is not what it was supposed to be in the earlier days. Twigs and branches, according to mythology were used to burn this a day before the festival.
    Nevertheless, may peace be onto you and am sorry once again.

  2. Dear Vimala,

    I’m so sorry that a festive celebration like this turned tragic. It must be very hard for you whenever this occasion is coming or getting near, because it keeps reminding you of what you have lost. You must do something significant and positive to blot out these sad memories. I remember long time ago I get suddenly sad and teary after January. I was a bit puzzled then as to why; so I concluded that it must be PMS but its not so. I realized that’s the month when I left home to settle and work in a foreign land.

    I hope you are feeling much better now… Light some candles meditate and surround yourself with things that will give you simple pleasures. A new writing tablet or a dip pen, a new pot to cook newly found recipe to experiment with. Anything to keep your mind from revisiting the past.

    God Bless…


  3. Seetharam says:

    I quite understand your feelings. I totally agree with you. Those who want to play let them do it. But why should the unwilling be dragged into it ?

    • Dear Seetharam,
      I am sure most of the older South Indians think like us. Once I told my north Indian friend that since it is OUR custom, on deepavali, I would put thick castor oil on her head and force her to take oil bath !!!

  4. I am extremely sorry Vimala. I forgot to say sorry to you when you informed me about the mishap. I’ll say sorry now. If my writings on Holi have reminded you of the past. I am again sorry…I agree with you. Holi should not be played the way it is being played.

    • Not to worry, Geeta. It was so long back. It is just that the way it is played that irritates (pun intended) me ! Moreover you have not highlighted this aspect but the spiritual side which I liked.

  5. Debanjan Roy, Kolkata says:

    Holi ought to be banned.

    Holi is an occasion so many evil features :-
    1. forcible application of harmful chemical colors
    2. drinking of liquor
    3. molestation of woman
    4. criminal wastage of water
    5. use of vulgar and lewd songs
    6. violation of privacy
    7. tearing of clothes…
    8. throwing of water balloons.
    9. It is imposed by North Indians on Bengalis and South Indians…..
    the list of bad features of Holi goes on.

    Hence Holi, ought to be banned immediately

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