For most of us, ‘Holi’ is synonymous with gulaal, friends, family and mouth-watering sweets. We eagerly wait for the festival of colours every year when children would play with pichkaris and adults would visit each others’ homes with trays of delicious food.
Growing up, Holi was akin to a carnival with friends – one where we could colour our buddies’ faces green and have a good laugh because ‘bura na mano holi hai’.
Little did we know that an innocent phrase we’ve heard and used since childhood would have a whole different meaning as we enter adulthood.
We hear stories of a semen-filled balloon being flung at women. We hear stories of eggs, vegetables and water balloons being thrown at women. In the name of holi, a section of men believe they are permitted to do anything, even grope a woman. Under the pretext of ‘bura na mano holi hai’, consent takes a backseat.
The fear of sexual harassment has made many women stay indoors, even if they want to be a part of the festival. Many times when women do not make this choice, they are made to.
Last year, female Delhi University students were barred from leaving their dorms due to the risk of encountering molestation on Holi.
Is this the only solution we are capable of offering to the women of the largest democracy in the world?
Will asking women to stay indoors curb the number of unruly men on roads? Will it help them realise the importance of consent or the difference between ‘play’ and ‘harassment’?
All this does is solve a problem from the surface at best.
Understanding the gravity of the problem, Reliance General Insurance came up with an innovative campaign to create an awareness around the sexual harassment faced by women during Holi and urge people to question themselves.
With their poster campaign #HoliNotHooliganism, they decided to put up posters straight out of Holi celebrations. The posters would include images of women with different expressions on their faces. But this would not be visible as they would be covered with gulaal. Each poster would have QR codes that can be scanned on mobile phones.
Once a person scans the pictures, the same photo would appear on their devices, but without any colour.
The women’s faces would now be perfectly visible and so would their expressions – thus revealing the ugly side of the festival of colours. Only when we witness our deeds in their purest forms, do we realise the nature of it. When we see that the women’s expressions didn’t have the slightest tinge of joy in them, we will be pushed to question our actions and change from within.
The festival of Holi is one filled with happiness and togetherness. Let us stand in solidarity to make this an occasion which accepts everyone. Afterall, Holi wouldn’t truly be Holi if half of our population sits at home in fear.
The Logical Indian community appreciates the efforts taken by Reliance General Insurance and hopes it helps start a discourse around sexual harassment during Holi. The need of the hour is to build a safe society for one and all.