Holi is known as the festival of colours in India. Just like Christmas, this festival sees participation from various religious communities. Such is the delight of Holi. However, the treatment of women on Holi is condemnable.
Men take advantage of this festival to overlook consent, to touch and in certain instances even grope women on this day.
How do these perpetrators justify themselves?
‘Bura Na Mano Holi Hai!‘
Are these perpetrators brought to justice?
Well, unlike other regular crimes that might allow access to the face of an unmasked perpetrator, Holi usually doesn’t. It is difficult to identify people by their faces because everyone has colour on their faces.
Women often do not report such instances on Holi because of the shame associated with and the frequency of such instances. One out of two women will have faced some form of harassment on Holi till such issues come across as trivial to women themselves because of the high numbers of such cases. Most of these cases do not see perpetrators being reported or brought to justice, therefore women follow the same example when they face harassment on Holi. They do not report it because they are aware it is futile.
Suggested Reading: Japanese Woman Harassed On Holi In Delhi, Video Goes Viral
Treatment Of Women on Holi 2023
This Holi a viral video of a Japanese woman in India surfaced on social media. The young woman was trapped by a group of men manhandling her and forcefully smearing colour all over her body even when she resisted. They chanted ‘Holi Hai’ as they did so.
One of the boys from the group smashed an egg on the Japanese woman’s head. In an attempt to evade them, she said ‘bye bye’. However, they continue to pursue her. Eventually, she has to slap a man from the group making forceful advances toward her to get away. Efforts are being made to verify the authenticity and the time the video was filmed.
In another instance shared by a foreigner enjoying the festivities in India, she shared her experience of being harassed. The perpetrators had been taped by her in her vlog as she shares her experience online. She complains of men forcefully applying colours on her cheeks. She shares that one of them picked her breasts and tried to cause her pain. To protect herself she called out to her male group of friends who then flocked in to protect her.
‘Bura Na Mano Holi Hai!’
But which of these instances shared sounds tolerable? How can a festival justify molestation? Is the solution to all of this locking up women and placing a curfew on them? Or should the inebriation caused by bhang be blamed? Should we consider blaming women’s clothing like we always do? Or the time of the day they step out of their houses?
Can the harassment faced by women in Holi be curbed if they operated with a male comrade by their sides? Or should the existence of women be obliterated by society as a solution?
The above are statements that have been posed by society every single time a woman comes forward with her problems. Why then should women feel incentivised to come forward with their issues? And how can such issues be curbed if they don’t come forward with it?
Growing up I was advised to cover up during Holi when I complained of elders putting colour on my body without my consent. Covering up would ensure that the colours did not directly touch my skin, but what about my dignity? Why are young girls asked to touch colours to the feet of elders as a ritual and accept colour in turn? It has been more than five years since I stopped playing Holi.
The views expressed are the author’s own.