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Holi has become an excuse to harass and molest women and hence, I refuse to participate in this festival. Let's demand an end to this toxic culture.
Holi has become an excuse to harass and molest women and hence, I refuse to participate in this festival. Let’s demand an end to this toxic culture.
Holi is a festival of colors which is celebrated in the month of February or March. It is a spring festival of the Hindus in honor of Lord Krishna. As per the mythology Lord Krishna played Holi with his Gopinis (female friends). This year the festival will be celebrated yet again and that starts from 1st March 2018 till 2nd March 2018.
But I will not be playing Holi nor will I allow my ten year old daughter to play Holi though as a Hindu I have a hundred percent right to play with colors. Am I weird that both I and my daughter will stay indoors during this festival while my entire colony will play with colors?
I have a story behind this tale. I was a little girl of twelve who had her first periods and also had budding breasts. I was blooming to be an adult with the mind of a child when my neighbors back at Agartala, Tripura came to my house to play Holi with me. There was a crowd of several teen boys with whom I had grown up playing. They came drenched in different colors. They pressed my breasts, touched me in my private parts, while they poured buckets of water on me. I was wet. My breasts ached, I cried for my parents and I ran from their clutches and that memory haunts me even today.
Still the child in me wanted to play. I was thirteen when my classmates with whom I had been studying from nursery came to play Holi with me. There were five boys, all of my age. Four of them clutched me and painted my face while one of them chose my breasts to paint the colors of Holi. The abuse did not stop here, the next day in school the gossips were heard “I pressed the sponges of Rimli and enjoyed doing it”.
I stopped playing Holi forever as I feared the same nightmare will be repeated and I will be molested or raped as was shown in the movie Damini and my abusers will laugh at my harassment.
Says Respect women, “Holi is among the most celebrated festivals in India. Colors, water balloons, ‘Pichkaris’, gulaal etc. are used during Holi. One fascinating thing is also famous during Holi that is consumption of “Bhaang”. Bhaang is a subsided form of drug mixed with butter milk or curd and is an alcoholic beverage. It gives the drinker a sort of high feeling making him lose his senses. Many of the molestation and rape cases reported during Holi are under the influence of Bhaang alone. Another thing that largely contributes to women being molested during holi is the very popular and omnipresent saying, “Bura na maano, Holi hain!”; men can touch you anywhere, make you feel uncomfortable and unsafe, can apply colors to your body inappropriately and can get away with the simple excuse of “Bura na maano, Holi hain!” which literally translates into, “Don’t get serious or feel bad, today is Holi!” Holi now a days have been characterized as the festival of “Misbehaving with women”. With the increase in number of rape, molestation and harassment cases being reported around holi, it has become one of the most “unsafe” festivals. With the excuse of applying gulaal or colors, a man tries to pound himself over women. Touching inappropriately, hugging etc. are one of the many ways in which men tries to take advantage of the situation.”
I am a single woman though I was married once upon a time. I am now a woman of forty and a single parent too. I had been seeking justice since age thirteen on the trauma I faced during in the name of colors. My abusers were boys and their behavior might be an indication of their poor upbringing. To all parents mothering a son, please use my example, when you teach your child how to treat a woman. Till then, I refuse to play Holi and I demand through my essay that please stop sexually assaulting girls/women in the name of this festival.
Image source: unsplash
Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, an MBA in supply chain management and is engaged with a corporate sector. Her essay in the anthology “Book read more...
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