India is undoubtedly the land of festivals. Festivals are an occasion for the people to take out time from their regular routines, to celebrate life, to enjoy with their close ones, to convey and receive greetings and gifts, and leave behind the hatred in exchange for love. Well, that was all of it before the ‘amount or level’ of celebration became a status symbol, before celebration turned into pollution, before grace turned to molestation, and before our ways of ‘celebrating’ changed. Before you burst out, read.(Scientific studies provided)
Holi is one of the most widely celebrated of Indian festivals, mostly celebrated by Hindus, the ‘festival of colours’. Its celebrated at the end of winter season, in early March. Now there are many legends or myths joined to the origin of the festival. Since the term ‘holi’ itself means burning, I will tell the one which is the most famous of all, and directly involves burning. The myth is that there was once a demon, Hiranyakashyap. He tried to kill his son because he did not worship him instead of the mythological God ‘Vishnu’. This he tried to do by making his sister, who could not be burnt by fire, to sit in a burning pyre with Prahalad. As it turned out, Prahalad, because of his devotion, was unaffected, while Holika, the sister, burned. This festival is thus the celebration of Good over Evil.
The festival involves burning a pyre of woods, with a long bamboo in the middle, on the first day( this was also called as Holika Dahan, meaning Holika’s Death), and colouring each others faces the next day. Children also play by throwing, and splashing coloured water on others. Now, first of all, my views are not against the festival, but the way of celebration. In the past, there used to be just one Holika Dahan, usually at the city center, where the citizens went with their families to have enjoy the celebration. But as time went on, this even became a thing of every household. Every family, or at least every separate colony wants a separate Holika Dahan for itself. This meant more consuming of wood-contributing to Deforestation, and then its burning- contributing to higher air pollution and respiratory diseases. Most people also use firecrackers, because apparently burning a huge pile of wood wasn’t enough. Now, at first this might seem as over exaggerating the situation, but imagine the number of colonies in a country of billions, with let’s say half of them burning separate pyres, that means in one single day, about millions of trees or bamboos have been cut for the occasion. Here, save yourself the trouble of comparing the regular deforestation that is going on with this. That deforestation isn’t right either, and I will write on it, but the fact remains, right now, to some extent, that is a necessary evil, to power small-scale industries like paper, textile and housing. Automobiles cause tremendous air-pollution too, but even for a developed nation like America, having every citizen drive an electric car is a dream of future, nevertheless, many steps are taken to regulate it, some succeed some do not. But burning for the sake of celebration and celebration alone isn’t right. What is the use if it is going to circle back and bite you in the arse?
Not only holika dahan contributes to air-pollution, it fire backs in the form of respiratory diseases like asthma. Not to mention the role of deforestation in increasing climate change and global warming. Mussoorie saw a snowfall at this time of the month! Can you imagine? While you are busy enjoying the scenic beauty, what you are failing to see is the message the nature is trying to convey. Human activities are already derailing the balance. Delhi, especially, already has its name on the top of the most polluted city rankings, nothing to be proud of. Government is taking measures, and whether they are effective or not is a different tale, but small steps like changing the way we celebrate can go a long way.
Similarly, the second day is celebrated in the form of another disaster- water pollution and wastage. In a country, struggling to feed the hungry, to deliver clean drinking water and progress properly, when the citizens celebrate by wasting huge, very huge, amounts of water, just to wet the other person, is a sign of sheer stupidity.Farmers are committing suicides due to water shortage which results in low crop yield, and in the same state people are literally just throwing away thousands of gallons of water. Scientific studies show that Bangalore is facing such critical water crisis due to pollution of its lakes that it might not be habitable beyond 2025. Is this the future we want? What is the smartness in hitting the ax on your own leg?
Recently there has been a wave of nationalism in the country. What is the use of shouting you are a nationalist, if your actions portray otherwise? How can you even think of yourself as a nationalist, patriot, or even a member of the humankind if you are so carelessly bent upon depleting the very resources everyone is literally dying for?! All this is beyond my level of understanding. Below are links to various scientific studies conducted on the harmful effects oh Holi, and if you have the needed time, do read it.
Not to forget, the use of colours. Harmful chemicals or not, out them on your own face and on people who agree, not the voiceless animals around you. Playing with someone’s life isn’t cool or funny but the lowest level of shame. To cherry all I said above add the statement,”Bura Na Mano Holi Hai”(Don’t feel bad because its holi). Which has gained the image of a tool to drag others into your celebration against their will. Some people do not want to celebrate, and that is okay. There is no need to force them , and in extreme cases, beat them up or molest them. (Because for one day we can hope to have a different scenario)
See, I accept there are other problems, and sources of pollution, some much bigger than the festival holi, but that does not mean we should ignore this. A bigger cause needs bigger and long running methods and alternatives. But, practices involved in holi are a matter of actions and habit, and can be changed over one generation. Teach kids the right way to celebrate. There is no status quo attached with how many colours, or water balloons you buy, or if you burned a separate pyre. In the end, no one gives a flying shit, and that is the truth. Celebration means enjoying life with the presence of family and friends. Eating delicacies, exchanging gifts, maybe go out on a picnic,or just spend time at home, free of stress and party. I don’t remember my mother telling me of any folktale that involved the Gods saying that the followers HAVE to burn the pyre, or waste water, or apply colours to others even the unwilling, and the voiceless. I alone cannot write against everything, but I can do write about some. People will say no matter what I type about, that I should be typing on some other matter too and not be a hypocrite, but I can only write as much. There are other people talking about other issues. Show your love to your country, and more importantly your planet, not by shouting slogans and violence, but changing your habits. Remember, every drop contributes to the ocean. Thank you for reading, please do share the post, and if you have anything to ask/say/comment you can do so below. Happy Reading, and a Happier and Greener Holi!
The Results and Figures resulting from the research studies below will help you know the situation much better.
-The Cosmogasmic Person