Holi- the festival of colours is here announcing the arrival of spring. Markets are packed with people buzzing around the streets looking for different colours, pooja materials, sweets, water balloons and what not. Everywhere the colour of happiness seems to spread, colours of hope and joy. Indian president Mr. Pranab Mukherjee has also sent his greetings to the nation on this occasion of holi. He said: “On the joyous occasion of holi, I convey my greetings and good wishes to all my fellow countrymen. This festival which marks the advent of Spring, is a harbinger of joy, hope, and fulfilment for all. The myriad colours of holi are a reflection of our diversity and multi- cultural heritage. May this festival of colours strengthen faith in our cherished national values and promote oneness, harmony, and good of all.”
The other day I was travelling in a DTC bus when a water balloon came flying in through the window from nowhere and hit the face of a lady. She seemed old and very much disgusted with the incident. Moreover, she seemed to be in unbearable pain. While everyone asked her if she was fine, crying she just said that her eye is gone! (Meritoh aankh hi gai!)
Is this what we call the festival of joy and oneness? Today, majority of the people who celebrate holi don’t actually know about the significance of the festival. They are unaware about the story of Holika and her brother Hiranyakashipu who tried to kill his own son Prahlada many times but failed. Finally, he ordered young Prahlada to sit on a pyre in the lap of Holika, Hiranyakashipu’s demoness sister, who could not die because she had a boon preventing her from being burned by fire. Prahlada readily accepted his father’s orders, and prayed to Lord Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika burnt to death, while Prahlada survived unharmed. The salvation of Prahlada and burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.
To the youth today, it is just a mere festival of harassing others and resorting to evil practices with a tag line- BURA NA MANO, HOLI HAI…
It is not for the first time that Delhi University colleges had to suspend classes on the eve of holi due to the untoward practices undertaken by some students inside the college premises and some other anti- social elements just outside the college gates.one thing common to both the groups is that a majority of them are in an inebriated state. Reason- Bhang!!!Bhang is an intoxicating drink made out of the female cannabis plant. It is smoked or added in drink as a beverage on the day of Holi. It is said that Sadhus use bhang to boost and enhance meditation, as it puts them in a state of trance. However too much of bhang consumption could numb the senses.
This is not all. Use of synthetic colours, shouting out crude comments on the girls, and making obscene gestures that are so indecent that it amounts to harassment are all a vital part of modern day holi. But what are the after effects of all of the above?
Taking advantage of the huge demand for powdered and grained varieties of colours during Holi, unscrupulous elements mix chemical dyes to fillers (base material) such as starch, wheat flour and mica dust to prepare cheap quality fragrant colours.
They also contain traces of lead and cadmium. Scientific tests have verified these cause skin abrasions, skin and eye irritations, allergies and even asthma. Long term application of such synthetic colours can also have carcinogenic (cancer causing) effect. The National Botanical Research Institute (NBRI) has developed ‘herbal gulal’ technology and transferred it to private companies for commercial production. Herbal gulal is eco-friendly natural dye, which is available in five colours that are yellow, blue, pink, sandalwood and green and is touted as the most viable alternative to synthetic colours.
Synthetic colours cause irritation, respiratory problems and even damage other vital organs. The toxic effluents released from these colours also pollute water and soil.
We all waste so much water on this day. Just a minute of thought about the current situations in our own country may stop us from doing so.The Holi festival which takes place on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 is at a time when central parts of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, are reeling under a severe water shortage with no rain due until the monsoon in June.
An alleged environmental issue related to the celebration of Holi is the traditional Holika Dahan bonfire, which is believed to contribute to deforestation. A local tabloid had a view published that 30,000 bonfires each burning approximately 100 kg of wood are lit in one season. Several methods of preventing this consumption of wood have been proposed, including the replacement of wood with waste material or lighting of a single fire per community, rather than multiple smaller fires.
Looking at the market situations, Indian small and medium industries seem to be distressed by the Chinese invasion of the local markets by a huge variety of water guns, balloons, canons and toys of various sizes and shapes in replicas of animals, gadgets and characters gripping the attention of children. The holi accessories market grew from Rs. 12000 crore last year to rs.15000 crore this year with a major share going to the Chinese products and almost 1000 Indian SMEs forced to be shut down as a result.
My aim in writing this article is not to stop people from playing holi, rather it’s to spread the message that not everyone around is willing to play holi the same way as most of the people today do. And if unintentionally I hurt the festive feelings of anyone, all I have to say is- BURA NA MANO, HOLI HAI!!!