Holi is claimed to be the festival of colors and joy, but it also validates sexual harassment and neglects the significance of consent in an act. Everyone has heard the phrase “Bura na maano Holi hai” (It can be translated as “Do offend, it is Holi” today), and no one can deny the phrase is used as an excuse to act against the consent of a person during the time of the festival.
The celebration is very different than other festivals. Holi is celebrated by rubbing or throwing colors on a person. It also involves touching a person’s body to color it. The role of consent plays a very important when one’s body is involved because consent draws the line of between sexual acts and sexual harassment. But the phrase “Bura na maano Holi hai” tries to legitimize the negligence of consensual acts. Sexual offenders touch the private parts of women and children and validate their act by shouting Holi hai! They see Holi not as a festival but as an occasion for targeting women and children.
A society that is deeply patriarchal, does not see its culture promoting rape culture so no one questions its norms. Women are forbidden to go around the strangers on Holi but men are not forbidden to touch women without their consent. Men are not considered responsible but it is always women who are held responsible for their own harassment in the rape culture. Men legitimize their actions by saying “don’t mind, it is Holi.” But we as a society question and discard such phrases which validate sexual harassment. “Bura Mano, kya hua agar Holi hai” and say “no” no matter what the occasion is.
Image Source: Film Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani (2013)