I don’t remember playing Holi because I never really played. This is the time when Spring arrives and I often used to get sick. Two years ago, my maternal grandmother passed away on the day of Holi. I used to be attracted by “Pichkari” (water gun) and I still do but I don’t participate.
The popular myth on Holi says:
This festival is celebrated after the death of Holika, the sister of Danava King Hiranya Kasyap (aka Hiranyakasipu). She wanted to kill her nephew Prahlad, who was a devotee of Vishnu. The Danavas refused to worship him. Holika had been granted a boon by Brahma that she would be untouched by fire. She carried Prahlad on her lap and sat on a pyre. Nothing happened to Prahlad because of his devotion.
In Nepal, this festival is celebrated in two days. (Actually seven days in Kathmandu Valley. Everyone seems to ignore this fact. Fagu Poornima (yesterday) in the Mountains and today in the Terai. No one knows why. Maybe because of different cultures that got the same/similar name.
Whatever the reason behind the origin of the festival, I have seen that it has always been a concern for people (women, mostly)and the government. Not long ago, boys used to hit girls with rubber balloons (or later with plastic bags) filled with water (mostly filthy) weeks ago before Holi. Girls felt insecured. On the day of Holi, the situation would get worse. No one would be spared of cold water and colours (even if they did not want to participate).
It might not have been that horrifying for some years (I might have failed to observe!) but some youths still get themselves drunk or drugged (“Jhyap” in Nepali). Some boys also take it as an opportunity for sexual harassment. A British journalist took this issue to Twitter and I came to know it through Lex Limbu’s Facebook post and Neostuff’s page. Sexual harassment must not happen anywhere. No woman should suffer from such kind of behavior. Holi is not an opportunity to grope women and inflict fear into their minds. This is absolutely shameful!
Festivals are for fun not for fear. Any festival that inflicts fear is not a festival at all. Celebrate it if you want but don’t force others. And never take it as opportunity for sexual harassment.