I saw her trying to pull herself when he held her tightly. No matter how strenuously she tried to strive, there’s no denying that this hooliganism is freely normalised on this festival with this wicked catchphrase, “Bura na mano, Holi hai.” 

He went ahead without any apprehension as she tried her best to let go. He feels that passion. It was something which drove him crazy whilst stroking the red colour on her cheeks. Coming down slowly, he still held her soft arm firmly, somehow trying to mark his territory. She stood there, contemplating how powerless she felt, for these marks would get removed from her skin. But, the skin or soul, who will win?

Ask any woman you know how she feels about the festival of “Colors”, and she will have just one thing to say, “I hate going out on Holi.” Why? It is all because of the “unintentional touches”. Not only this but the thoughts that follow – the overthinking, the feeling of not being to absorb anything that happened. Ultimately questioning ourselves, “Did I do something wrong?” or “Perhaps, I came out too strong?” 

India is no stranger to the problem of sexual assault, and time and again, we have witnessed rallies, candle marches, protests calling out to end this uncontrolled need of gentlemen to perceive women as objects. Yet, none of these “rules” applies to Holi, the festival that ironically embarks blooming flowers and triumph of good over evil. 

Celebrations of this two-day event are kicked off with friends coming together, with good food, music and drinks. But is it a celebration for the women or maybe just another reason to stay inside? And this time, during the morning, unlike the usual late nights.

“I was just 12 when I fought with my father to go and play Holi at my best friend’s house. Little did I know, I wasn’t even safe inside her house.”

That one friendly hug giving an indication of how that little girl is up for groping. How do we give an indication? In reality, we women are clutched in the hands of chauvinism that no matter how much we try to change, comes to us with just a wink, a crooked smile or just a simple “look”. It’s funny how we are loathed in self-doubt as if we have given these guys a naughty hint. It’s even funnier how when we build the courage long enough to come up to someone close and shoot it out on them, to finally hear the common sentence, “Why does this happen only with you?”

“That touch isn’t just a touch. Within me, it has changed a little too much.”

Since childhood, we have always been taught to sit properly. To wear clothes that aren’t too tight or revealing and accused of giving wrong hints to men. These men don’t realise that we’ve become immune to these looks they give when we wear a suit, saree or skirt. No matter what we wear or what we do, the fault is ours, isn’t it?

All we ask is nothing. We don’t need anything. No colours, no new clothes, no sweets, no drinks. All we need is a normal day, without being scared of going out of our own houses. Not wanting to call our brothers, drivers, fathers or guards to drop us here and there. All this because of some uneducated scoundrels are roaming on the roads just to say, “Madam, Bura na mano, Holi hai.” 

“Allowing them to boost their ego by affecting us for a lifetime is not okay. If you let the accused slip away in these colors, victims won’t come forward with the story that’s killing them from the inside.”
Stand up, it’s time to raise your voice against these boys!