After the cold winter days when the sun gets warmer, we in India celebrate the coming of Spring with colour . People get together to throw coloured powder on one another, sing and dance to welcome better days .
However, for me , it’s that time of year when people come banging at your door to wish you a happy Holi.
Luckily this year , I’m too far away for anyone to bang on my door but funnily enough I got the very same message from two different friends in two different continents wishing me a very happy Holi.
But it’s not happy for me , I want to tell them. I just hate this festival.
And for more reasons than one.
Why I hate Holi
- It is dirty : What is so exciting about having colour thrown on your face ? Or worse still, coloured water that only has you looking black and unrecognisable?
I remember being terrorised by the thought of some one flinging colour on my clothes or squirting me with water. Not only was this messy but extremely icky. The kids would either throw a dry powder or worse still, make a thick paste with which they would plaster your face . And horror of horrors, when they ran out of gulal or colour, they would actually pick up MUD and smear each other with that!
- It is an excuse for groping: Yes , believe it or not, I used to actually cringe at the thought of the old uncles or older boys putting colour all over you in a manner that was quite revolting .
With colour making them unrecognisable, some of the unsavoury elements in our colony would grab this chance to feel Uppal the girls who were actually out of their reach in normal times.
- It is dangerous : Organic colours are something new. When we were growing up the local baniya would sell off anything as Holi colour and if you weren’t careful, had serious skin problems with the dyes used . I remember one Holi, one bright spark actually put silver oil paint on everyone and they all thought it a brilliant idea till they discovered that their eyes were smarting with the smell and fumes the paint let off .
One Holi, my mother-in-law who was on holiday found a water balloon hit her through the open window of the car she was traveling in. She sustained an eye injury which was minor compared to the damage she could have sustained, assured the ophthalmologist who treated her black and swollen eye.
- It is rowdy: More often than not , Holi is a licence to binge drink, dance and even take ganja laced thandai which makes the revellers even more raucous and rowdy.
I remember even in our girls hostel, the girls would bang on your door and insist on dragging you out to join in the “fun”. If this is what the girls did, I’d hate to imagine what the boys were up to .So do you find it weird that Holi was one of my least loved festivals?
It wasn’t always like this though. As little children , we played Holi with our cousins . That was fun , sedate and contained . But as I approached my teens and was living in a large colony, I began to dread the day. To avoid being pulled out , I would actually get into a public bus and go up and down the same route till the festival was officially declared over at lunch time .
However, to each his own and I wish all those who celebrate this festival a happy holi.
Do not forget that this is a Spring Festival, a festival of joy.