With Holi barely a week away, shops have started selling powder colours and plastic guns (pichkaaris) for water. While revelry and merriment is one thing, this is a time of caution and wariness for train commuters, especially, who face traumatic times every time this festival comes around. Last year too, we saw a couple of deaths after something was thrown at train commuters, during this festival. They lost their balance and fell off the train resulting in their deaths.
When people deviate from the real purpose of festivals,disaster is bound to follow.
Unfortunately, last year is not an isolated incident. For some time now, Holi, a celebration of colour, has been denigrated by incidents like these, which cast a shadow on celebration. With mindless application of colour, and sexual molestation of women, it is vital to ensure that Holi remains what it is, and does not degenerate into what we can call Holi-ganism.
Threat to commuters
The greatest danger to commuters and pedestrians is the water balloon menace, where balloons are flung at commuters (especially women) in trains and on the roads too. This is not merriment, but symptomatic of a sickness, for if you take joy in the fact that a commuter has been taken by surprise, lost an eye or suffered some other grievous injury or even death, you are a sick person.
It is heartening to note that there is some awareness about the use of safe colours, and against harassment of people, with a number of organisations creating awareness for a safer Holi. This needs to be constantly reinforced so that people take greater responsibility while playing Holi. It is also important that the strictest punitive measures are employed for those who harm people. Let these ‘crimes’ not be dismissed as harmless merriment or innocent fun.
They are not, and those that perpetrate them must be treated as criminals. Respect for boundaries is paramount, even as we come closer to this festival. Make it a time of joy, not sadness.