33-2019 Filthy festival #1

It may be called blasphemy, if you criticise it. But, the filthiest of festivals, Holi, is just round the corner. The festival has deep religious significance for pious Hindus. It is an iconic symbol of India, defining this nation’s (so-called) colourful heart. And even for those who do not hold the same beliefs, the festival has become a cultural standard across the centuries. But many Indians have a completely different Holi experience – one filled with dangerous chemicals or sexual abuse or rowdyism. Yet, no one dares complain.

The dangerous chemicals used, not only damage your skin but seep into the ground — ready to hurt the soil, flora, fauna and groundwater, for years to come. The same logic goes for all kinds of artificial colours or plastic water balloons used recklessly during Holi. To make the damage complete and irreversible, we add a major polluting ritual. A bonfire of useless and discarded material is lit up on the eve of holi. No one can seriously argue that these things are part of any ancient tradition or civilised culture.

Look at it this way, if you damage the environment so much that there will be no more water, how will you play Holi ? If you dirty your homes and streets so much that living becomes impossible, how will you play Holi ? And if playing Holi all your life with chemicals tragically damaged your skin, or caused cancer, why will the next generation play Holi ?

Even consuming intoxicating drugs like
“bhang” (or marijuana/cannabis) is given a religious approval and even encouraged. The unrestricted rowdyism which follows, is considered a blessing from the Gods. Even law-enforcement agents tend to look the other way round. Besides, not many people who relish this God-send delicacy called cannabis contains ‘dangerous’ amount of faecal matter (aka shit). Why do we like to spread poison and filth, in the name of religion, or tradition, or culture ?

Let us wake up now. Tomorrow may be too late.

May wisdom and peace prevail. Amen.