Holi, the multicoloured, watered up elephant in the room that needs addressing.

India is known for its festivals. We have way too many. Statistics have shown that at any given point in time, some state in India is celebrating a state-relevant festival, meaning if India is considered as one unified state, it has festivals all day, every day. But this isn’t about the minor league festivals, this is about the big ones, the ones that result in varying levels of environmental catastrophes.

On one hand, we have Diwali, the festival of lights… and sound, a lot of sound, but that’s a different story for a different time.

This story is about a festival called Holi, that over the years has changed from Holi to holy shit. The story of Holi dates back ages ago, when there was a kid with an abusive father. His name was Prahlad, his father used to set snakes on  him, get him beaten by his henchmen and subject him to varying amounts of torture. The kid however was a staunch believer, fair enough, so God in the form of a talking lion, came to save him.

I know we are all thinking it, so I am just going to say it as it is, the story sounds a lot like Narnia doesn’t it? Yes it does.

aslam__the_chronicles_of_narnia_by_rogermayko-d5ge76pWell, anyways, the abusive father’s sister in cahoots with the father tries to burn the kid alive, but ends up burning up herself(lol, noob). That’s still fine. The people of the earlier times used to burn effigies of this woman, the eve of the festival to remind themselves that they shouldn’t try to burn their kids alive. And apply the ashes on their foreheads as a mark of the same.

See, all this, albeit preposterous, I can agree with. Religion has its ways, we should abide them.

Where in history were the colours introduced, I mean, come on people. There was never any colour involved. I read through a lot of texts based on Holi and its history, people used to apply the ashes and invite each other over for haldi-kumkum(turmeric and saffron)  and then returned to doing what their job is. See, that’s civilised behaviour.

We, as the 20th-21st century human beings, took the concept, and blew it way out of proportion. We took the auspicious festival and made it into a unnecessary frolic that has to do with a lot of synthetic and markedly dangerous colours and water, a lot of water.

Two things in that sentence needs addressing. Your questions might be:

  1. Colours are harmful? Dude, I use organic colours!

No, the issue isn’t with the colour’s chemical composition. The colours do save you from the cancerous repercussions that used to exist before, but the skin irritation and retinal backlashes are still very much prominent. Festivities have you taking minimal to no care about the force and the zest with which you throw those water balloons or smear colour over each other. And where the colours might reach, where the water balloons might hit, all this would end up in harm. Studies have shown, 1 in every 380 Indian men or women end up with skin and/or eye issues post-holi. Think about this while I address the second point.

2. Water waste? I just use a couple of buckets, tops.

Couple of buckets? That’s just you, my friend. What about the 1.2 billion other Indians like you. Let me quickly get into the maths.

An average bucket in an Indian household carries 20-40 litres. Let us assume 20 litres, since we should ideally calculate the lower limit.  Assuming 400 million people participate in the festival, that’s 16 billion litres of water. This, in a country where there is no running water in the villages. Villages in Maharashtra are suffering from the worst draught that they have seen in ages, and here we are throwing coloured water at each other. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is not considering the water it takes to clean the ridiculous colours off. Why should we participate in this pointless, environmentally harmful, culturally irrelevant festival, that’s the question to be asked.

I blame Bollywood. The Indian cinema has used Holi repeatedly to add a sense of festivity. Holi appears in movies varying from all time classics like Sholay to ridiculous teenage wannabe repetitive cry-fest movies like Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani. We watch and learn from these movies and follow suit. I urge the people who are reading it, to please grow out of the propaganda and see things as they are.

Safe to say, the best thing that happened to Holi between the safe kid from back then and 2016 is, and I believe most of you might have seen this coming, yes, Coldplay’s Hymn for the Weekend video. Sorry guys, I couldn’t resist the urge.

I would like to conclude by quoting Benjamin Franklin as he said

We never know the worth of water until the well is dry


Humbly yours,

S. Narayanswamy