Holi Mess

If you're a Holi lover, you're going to think I'm crazy. But the truth of the matter is that I do not really enjoy Holi.

Way back when I was child living in Kolkata I suppose I must have liked it. I remember preparing the night before - filling tubs with water balloons to chuck at hapless strangers from the safety of the terrace-and always missing! I remember trying to pitch a bucket of water at a 'dada' (generic name of any young-older guy) in the colony, him side stepping adroitly and somehow me getting drenched in the process.

Cut to a few years later, Hyderabad - me studying for my 8th std final exams. I had read somewhere that during exams you should do things to make you happy. So I wanted to wear the new cheese cotton (it was a type of fabric) top my mother had bought for me. It was so pretty, all white with colourful polka dots. I was sure my mood would be very good if I wore it. My mother warned me that it is Holi and wearing white clothes, especially new ones, is not advisable. I told her I wouldn't be stepping out of the house since I would be too busy studying. So there was nothing to worry about. I would regret those words.

About an hour later, the doorbell rang. I peered through the peep hole and saw a bunch of multi coloured colony kids standing outside.

"I've seen you! I'm not coming out". I yelled through the door.

"Please come out didi. We only want to rub some gulal (coloured powder)on your face. We promise - nothing more than that"

Naturally, they didn't mean a word of it. But I, poor sucker, believed them and stepped out. Only for a bucket full of black water to be upended over my head. The cheese cotton top never looked the same again.

A few years on, in college, it was even worse. A total free for all. The boys took full advantage of the opportunity, grabbing the girls and even going so far as to throw them into a mud pit that was created specially for Holi. I was horrified when I heard this. So when a guy friend came around to my hostel asking me to come out and play Holi, I told him off roundly.

As time went on, I became more and more convinced that Holi was really not my festival of choice. Quite the opposite actually. I read stories of how young women in Delhi were harassed in the name of festivities. I even saw a news feature where the female presenter covering Holi became the target of some water balloons.

So Happy Holi everyone. Its not such a big festival where I live these days. Even so, I think I'll just stay put at home and be smart about not answering the doorbell this time.

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16 Responses to Holi Mess

  1. Rachna says:

    That's sad, Deepa. I have such fond memories of the festival and just love it. But, you are right, it gets annoying when people don't respect your wish of not wanting to play holi. We always play with only those who want to play and come out to play. And, one must really be careful when playing with strangers because hooligans just get an opportunity to take advantage.

  2. Purba says:

    RIP Deepa's beloved cheese cotton top :)

  3. radha says:

    Am in total agreement with you Deepa. Over the years, all the festivals, which were such nice occasions when we were younger, have become commercialised, noisy and are not fun anymore. And chucking water filled balloons at passers by is ridiculous!

  4. Rachit says:

    Bura na mano holi hai...!! Holi is a festival of joy and love. I truly enjoy playing it and can't imagine myself sitting inside the four walls away from the water cannon balloons..!!

  5. This year LKO was selling single use white kurta exclusively for playing holi. I know it may not still excite you; but may help to overcome the pain of losing the "cheese cotton top".

  6. Deepa says:

    Hey everyone - it is just a personal take on Holi. I'm just a miniscule minority that doesn't care much for it.

    Purba: Sigh! I tried to save it. But even after my best efforts, large purple patches remained. After numerous washes over the years it was a pale lavender. I used to wear it around the house till finally my mother ordered me to get rid of it.

    Radha: I saw this on NDTV. And the goons were aiming for particular body parts - you get the picture right?

    Rachit: Have fun! Happy Holi :)

  7. Like curate's egg good in parts.
    You cannot decry the festival as a whole for the few aberrations here and there.Any revelry tend to get overboard in some misguided hands.We should be careful in what group we are found and we have the choice to stay put.
    I remember my daughters when very young collecting pichakaris,colour powder,balloons the previous day itself and willingly got themselves drenched and presenting around noon a ghostly appearance with fast colurs sticking on their faces.But the enjoyment they derived was immense not withstanding the bout of fever that invariably followed.Holi is undoubtedly a festival of mirth and joy in North and observed in most places within decent limits

  8. Hey Deepa, Holi is one of the festivals that I really miss living in Chennai! It is a real "no holds barred"festival. Ofcourse the harrassment of women in our country is not limited to festivals such as these alone. But yeah, I have very fond memories of this festival.

  9. My didi always invites me to join in holi somewhere here. I may next time, I think this is a fun holiday.

  10. atticus says:

    wow! we have something like that, though rooted in catholicism. it's for saint john the baptist, and we use water to baptize new entrants to the religion, so it became water dousing.

    but like yours, it has become a bit problematic. some people would use dirty water so there'd be arguments sometimes.

  11. Deepa says:

    Photo Cache: Welcome to my blog. If you're a diaspora Indian, I imagine it might be nice to be part of the celebration. But if you here - at the epicenter of festivities - its a different story! All depends on what you enjoy.

    Atticus: Welcome to my blog. Dirt and grime happens here too. Car paint and some silver mercury type stuff is also used. Very difficult to get off your skin. People have been known to use turpentine / petrol on their skin to remove stains.

  12. Sandhya says:

    When I was in Hosur, some of my north Indian friends invited me for playing holi! I thought it might be fun. But the colour didn't go off from my saree and I gave it off to my servant. It took a long time to scrub off the colour from my skin too! But my friend said that it is part of the game! Maybe we are not used to it!

    I can imagine your feelings, Deepa!

  13. Holi is just another holiday now but it used to fun until sometime back [like when you grow up!].

  14. Deepa says:

    Photo Cache: Welcome to my blog. If you're a diaspora Indian, I imagine it might be nice to be part of the celebration. But if you here - at the epicenter of festivities - its a different story! All depends on what you enjoy.

    Atticus: Welcome to my blog. Dirt and grime happens here too. Car paint and some silver mercury type stuff is also used. Very difficult to get off your skin. People have been known to use turpentine / petrol on their skin to remove stains.

  15. atticus says:

    wow! we have something like that, though rooted in catholicism. it's for saint john the baptist, and we use water to baptize new entrants to the religion, so it became water dousing.

    but like yours, it has become a bit problematic. some people would use dirty water so there'd be arguments sometimes.

  16. This year LKO was selling single use white kurta exclusively for playing holi. I know it may not still excite you; but may help to overcome the pain of losing the "cheese cotton top".