Amongst all the Indian festival, Holi is the most unique. And I'll tell you why.
Because Holi brings with it a sense of freedom. A sense of liberation. This is one festival, where you can comfortably let yourself loose.
Which is why, as kids, this was one festival we all used to look forward to. In all the other festivals, new clothes would be given to us with a strict warning to not malign or dirty them in any way.
Which meant, that we kids had to really take extra precautions to keep our clothes spick and span.
But Holi was different. We were give the dirtiest of clothes to wear on that day.
We didn't have to comb our hair.
We didn't have to take a bath early morning.
We were free.
Free to let ourselves loose.
Nobody gave a damn how dirty we got. Nobody cared about the clothes. Holi was one festival where hygiene was the last thing on everybody's mind and boy, did it feel good!
As kids, the preparation for Holi used to begin days in advance.
While adults were too busy looking for gulaal, which in my estimation was pretty boring, our quest used to begin with trying to find the longest pichkari available in the market.
Mind you, buying a pichkari used to be no small task. The grip of the handle, the piston, the body make; everything had to be checked. More than the functionality of it, pichkari used to be status symbol for us kids.
Something we could brag about even days after the festival used to end.
Next, we used to go for some ammo, a.k.a the water balloons, the wet colours and that horrendous 'silver paint' all the adults used to look down upon.
Now armed and ready, Holi used to be spent filling water balloons from the tap of a generous friend's house, eating gujiyas at every house in the neighbourhood and chasing down each other so that we can apply colour to their hair.
Not the face, but the hair 'cause that's where it used to be really tricky to get rid of it.
To us, that's what Holi stood for. A sense of camaraderie, a sense of togetherness and a sense of some harmless adventure.
It was a festival to strengthen our ties. A festival to share some happiness in the form of colours. A festival to feel free.
What changed then?
I see reports of foreign tourists getting molested on Holi.
I see reports of women getting eve-teased on Holi.
And, I see reports of men hurling semen filled balloons at women.
Notwithstanding the fact that all this is disgusting beyond words, my question is, why are some people so hell bent on giving this festival a bad name?
As kids, Holi was a pretty simple festival. Yes, there was a certain sense of intimacy involved while applying colours to even random strangers, but it all used to be done within the ambit of decency.
But now, it looks like some people are going out of their way to reach new heights of perversity.
Imagine the plight of someone on whom trauma like this is inflicted.
Imagine someone who comes out on the street to enjoy the festival and ends up dealing with this.
While everybody else is busy being happy, there's someone for whom this festival is nothing short of a nightmare. Thanks to some morons.
So this Holi, lets's bring the simplicity back. Let's make this a festival to remember for all the right reasons.
This Holi, let's gift each other memories and not nightmares.