Holi: Colors of Joy and Empowerment
If February is all about love being in the air, March is all about colors in the air. Quite literally. With Holi falling right in the beginning of the month, we look beyond the common traditions to celebrate a lesser known one. But one that is powerful and impactful and much needed in today’s society.
While the regular Holi traditional stories are something that you have grown up listening to, Lath Mar Holi takes its origin from an equally relevant one. Lord Krishna used to stay in Nandgaon village and his beloved, Radha would reside in the neighboring village of Barsana. Now, we have all heard about Krishna’s mischievous behavior and his relentless pursuing of Radha, even if she has been irked by the same.
In a world where consent of a woman is considered insignificant, this act weaves itself into the fabric of setting an example in the society. So just how Radha’s friends would chase Krishna away from their town, even in today’s world, a woman needs to uphold her self-respect by shooing away the unwanted elements in her life.
Thus, as a practice, the women of Barsana, just before Holi, arm themselves with sticks and stones to protect themselves from the advances of the men of Nandgaon. When the men visit them, they drive away the men by hurling sticks at the men.
Although the entire act is done in jest, the gesture proves more than a point or two. It stands for women protecting themselves and each other, signifying that nothing is more important than having a voice. A voice to decide. A voice to choose. A voice to say no.
If you probe further into this, you’ll discover that marriages between people from these two villages are prohibited because there shouldn’t come a time when the enactment take place between relatives or in-laws.
Through the course of the day, the festival takes a turn towards the known Holi celebrations, as India knows it. Colours blend swifter than differences to create a scene of joy and togetherness. But beyond the veil of jest and joy, lies a higher power of womanhood coming together to show what the world needs to be wary of.
The bigger picture shows desi women in their strongest avatar. It changes the usual notion of a woman being weak and paints the bigger picture of a woman in a saree having control. Because empowerment is not just about empowering yourself, but also others around you.
Written by Tapoja Roy