How to play Holi with someone who doesn’t want to play Holi? The golden rule is: don’t. Apart from the colours on your hand, you need to keep three things in mind: personal space, consent and of course, logic.
You can get away with anything in India by calling it a festival. If the government decides to declare unemployment as a festival, employed people would quit their jobs to celebrate it.
We have normalised the behaviour of invading someone’s personal space and physically defacing them without their consent, all in the name of festivals and celebration.
Violating personal spaces is second nature to most Indians. We are conditioned to always be around one and other, so much so that it doesn’t even occur to us when we are in somebody else’s space. We take personal distance for granted. Probably that’s the main reason why India will never be good at singles tennis. Just way too much empty space around Leander Paes without anybody getting in his way. Whereas in the doubles, he always has Mahesh Bhupathi in his vicinity to talk to, bump into and fight with. Holi, for me, is an escalation of this problem.
May be ask?
Holi is a festival celebrated across the country to mark the triumph of good over evil. And the ultimate triumph of bad manners over good manners. However, people generally behave as though the almighty gave them a free pass to be a total airhead for the day.
The main problem is that somewhere Holi caters to the sadism that exists within most of us. It is about deriving maximum pleasure out of jeopardising something that is clean and perfectly in order. It’s probably the same rush that Vijay Mallya felt when he went around jeopardising a perfectly well-oiled alcohol business.
What really annoys me is the excuse that generally follows after drenching unsuspecting victims with colour and muck. The perpetrator expects to get away by just saying, “Bura na mano, Holi hai”. What sort of excuse or apology is this? You do something as bizarre and instead of apologising, you just state what you did. You certainly wouldn’t appreciate it, if I punched you in the face out of the blue someday and just said, “Bura na mano, punch hai.”
If you don’t partake in this forced form of assault, and resist a strange pair of hands making contact with your body, you are labelled a ‘party-pooper’, a ‘killjoy’ and a ‘spoilsport’. How does the person assaulting somebody suddenly become the good guy?
It’s called ‘playing Holi’ for a reason. You play it. And any game played has its rules.
Perhaps the most basic rule about playing anything is that you only play with people who want to play.
You don’t see Ronaldo pass the ball to some random spectator in the stadium to score a goal. Because the spectator isn’t playing, and it’s completely normal to leave a spectator alone. The problem with the current format of playing Holi is that there’s no conflict that culminates into a result. Nobody is getting out. If two people want to play Holi, they just put colour on each other – something both parties wanted throughout. So, in order to create conflict in the game, they find pleasure in going after unsuspecting people who don’t want to play this game.
The lack of logic doesn’t stop at just people who are throwing colours at each other. Even brands and businesses give up the excuse of logic during Holi. A clothing brand is offering 20 per cent off on clothing for Holi. If you’re a clothing brand, the last thing you should be doing is drop prices during Holi. You should instead raise prices. Holi is the biggest enemy of clothes. The core of Holi is damaging clothes for good. Why would you discount your clothes in order to get them destroyed?
I’m not saying stop playing Holi. All I’m saying is exercise some restraint when you’ve got a pack full of colours in a packet and an undying urge to watch something be jeopardised. Before you splash the colours, gently ask the person if they are comfortable with the whole deal. If they aren’t, don’t force them into it. Respect their decision and silently move on. At this point, I know what you’re thinking: who the hell am I to judge you and unleash all this gyan and logic, without you asking for it?
“Bura na mano, logic hai.”
The author is a sketch comedy writer. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter (@devaiahPB), and Instagram (@devaiah.bopanna).