Unholy Holi

Buranamanoholihai …………………! Brands –  Introducing another Cause Platform. If it’s one for the Road let it be Coffee. If I hear Rang barse bheege chunarwali ….yet again throughout the day I am going to ………….

Every year when I hear this phrase I cringe at the implications of this statement. To me it appears as a threat that is cleverly disguised in the deeply rooted religious and social culture of this festival. Buranamanoholihain is a licence ….for women and young girls to accept groping, molesting…at the altar of festival and revellery.

Do the younger generation remember that Holi, the festival of colours is about love and brotherhood wherein friends, family, neighbours and even strangers greet each other with colours. From the mythological point of view, holi is the celebration of survival of Prahlad over death of Holika, the demoness sister of Hirankashyapu. People rejoice around a bonfire to commemorate the death of the demonessinHolika-dahan. Alike other major hindu festivals, holi also is about rejoicing the victory of good over the evil.

However, what has the essence of holi come to in modern day and age is an opportunity of ‘ladki cheddna’ (the so called eve-teasing) under the age old excuse of “buranamanoholihai”.  This image the beautiful festival can be completely attributed to the hindi film industry. It has used the festival of holi to project its misogynistic stance and perpetuate gender stereo-types since several decades. The ‘macho’ hero, under the influence of bhang is given all leverage to have his way with the coy female lead. In my memory, very few hindi songs filmed on holi have projected women gracefully. By the film-makers it has been seen as an opportunity to show female bodies voluptuously which leads to better box office collections. Also for villains, it has been shown as an opportune time to rape, molest and perpetrate all sorts of crime against women under the disguise of colour. Having said that, I am not sure whether the films project the happenings of the society or vice versa. I believe it has a very direct relation either ways.

Holi has been a time of exhilaration for me ever since I have understood what festivals mean to humans. At the same time being a woman, through all my years growing up, I have been scared of being groped, molested and physically abused by neighbours, relatives and even strangers in the name of festivity on the day of Holi. Let us talk to the women we know, mother, sister, wife, colleague, friend, relative, neighbour, maid-servant – the majority would be able to cite at least one unpleasant experience of this day. Unfortunately, it also takes away theright to say no, to complain and react and one is made to feel helpless, kyunkiburanamanoholihai.

Bas Ab Aur Nahi!

It is time to take a pledge for a violence- free Holi, since this wonderful festival does not give a license to behave like a hooligan.  In fact, a number of NGOs like eCoexist, Kalpavriksh, Halabol and One voice etc have been striving hard for the past few years to make HOLI, a safe and colorful festival.

From Bell Bajao’s vibrant poster campaign “This Holi I’ll Show You My Moves”, to Halabol’s – Do Us All a Favor & Lets Play a Safe Holi message, to One Voice’s national “Save Holi” campaign, organisations across the country have been calling for colour with consent. In effect, One Voice has released a worth mentioning excellent short film to raise awareness. The video de-constructs social stereotypes around masculinity, sexuality and womanhood.Image

I remember clearly last year when the entire nation was celebrating Holi, a child lost his life in Mumbai due to toxic colours and many were admitted to the hospital. Is that we call a happy celebration? Indeed no.

Holi can be Holier if brands step in and take it as a cause. Brands can be the mirror as well as a moulder of the society. My belief is reiterated by many campaigns doing the round. Especially the Eye Bank Associations’ Holi-campaign is a heart warming example of how a pious festival like Holi can motivate people to donate their eyes. The campaign chronicles the students of a hostel for blind children celebrating Holi and inspires humanity in us.

Meanwhile this year because of devastating drought sweeping through Maharashtra, many organisations have come out with posters and hoardings urging people to conserve water and to play holi with only colours instead.

So Brands here is another cause to adopt .The Holi landscape so rich with emotions, reality and of immediate concern … that brand affinity is guaranteed.

However if you like you may choose to continue to give me tips about oiling my hair and protecting my skin by using natural colors  – But come on and take this platform –  Kuchgalathorahahai¸toburamano, apnehaqkeliyelado. HAPPY HOLI!

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