Think Holi is as holy as before? Well, certainly not if you have been attacked with water-filled balloons or plastics on an important day. But for some, it's still a day you get a HOLIday and take some time off your study or work burden. Holi-enthusiasts then set out armed in their mission to hit their target, whosoever it is.
The fun actually starts with the end of Shivaratri, weeks before Holi actually comes. You start buying stocks of plastics or balloons and collecting water or any such liquid. Boys get lined up at water spouts or dip their plastics down the tunnel. They then rule the roads and Hark !! No girls dare pass them; else they are attacked with plastics that fall on them from all around. Poor girls — they do nothing but just yell at them, which the perpetrators really enjoy.
Holi has been nothing more than this. Ask yourself — have you ever stopped to think what you would do if that victim was your own, perhaps your sister or fiancée or your wife? We enjoy attacking others but we take up fighting when it comes to us. Several of such holi scenes lead to disputes that run for years and every year the festival opens up for them platforms for vengeance. Holi then has resulted in a festival of hooligans, losing its traditional values associated with colours and the sense of fraternity.
Who is responsible for all this? We may ask but never do anything significant. In fact, we ourselves are, I say. Why? We too enjoy scenes of girls being ballooned on their backs and just stay aside. Some might even heave a sigh, "Phew!! I wasn't nearby!" We are clearly refraining from the age-long generational duty of teaching the young ones that this activity is bad and they must ask for forgiveness promising not to do that again. Who has ever dared to do that? Would the situation have worsened, had we not stepped forth against them in time? But then, it is never too late to start off.
Many have asked "What is there to enjoy in Holi if we do not attack others with lolas?" Well, for those already with a deep mindset that Holi is all about lolas, the ban on this honestly would bring no fun at all. But then reforms seem more important than to let people enjoy this evil-like practice.
Let's first get back to its religious and cultural values. Now how many of you know the religious or cultural significances of Holi? Yes, many might know the myths related to Lord Krishna, his fight against the evil and all his rasa-lilas in Vrindavan. But what about the Nepal Mandala? People of the Marwadi community in Kathmandu valley and few others are well-acquainted with the holy 'chir' hoisted in the Basantapur. Even few know of yet another ancient 'chir' at Hanuman Dhoka Durbar and Patan Durbar Square. Bhaktapur too has such practice at Tachhapal Bhimsen temple. We are such blinded by the enormous happiness of other's misery that we forget that a number of rituals are associated with this. Locals have even started to forget the tradition of offering foods to Gurumappa, a demon-turned superhuman, at Tundikhel or that of collecting ashes of the burnt 'chir' to worship it the next morning (in the Marwadi community). There are so many other cultures associated with it that I have not been able to get acquainted with all of them.
So then, what's my version of Holi? How about celebrating Holi for friendship and communal feelings only, without disturbing the office or college-goers or any other passers-by? How about returning to the past glory of colours and using them for artworks with people putting on colour-powders saying that artwork was by us? The behaviour does not change at once, but if we give it a go at least we will be able to reform the hooliganism to an ideal and enticing fiesta.
March 10, 2011. 9:04 pm