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How ‘Bura na maano Holi hai’ has undermined the consent of women in India

From casually normalizing abuse to giving Holi a communal colour by targeting minority women, the festival has become more of a nightmare than a celebration

Priyanka Kavish 10 Mar 2020

holi

The festival of colors, Holi is here and soon all over one message is set to boom across – ‘Bura na maano, Holi hai (It’s Holi, take no offense).” However, we have been slow to realize what a travesty of consent the above slogan is. Starting by being normalized through Bollywood, the idea of a woman’s consent washed off faster that the color on her. From then to now has come such a time that this festival is now been given a communal colour by the right-wing saffron brigade.

We tell you why the celebration of Holi in its current form is a threat to women throughout India.

For decades, the slogan, “Bura na maano Holi hai”, is being seen as a free pass by some to take advantage of women. They see it as a free pass to touch women inappropriately, either forcefully smearing color on them by approaching them on roads or aiming balloons with ingredients apart from water, at their breasts and genitals. It is during this celebration – one that signifies good over evil – that women have reported being groped, molested and in some cases, raped by men.  In 2018, in New Delhi, a woman was pelted with semen filled balloons on her way home, reported PAPERMAG. In a 2018, Guardian repor, a young woman was attacked by a group of men on the day of the festival, but she was casually dismissed by a policeman on complaining saying they couldn’t do anything about it. A 1996 report by Delhi University on sexual harassment showed how instances of sexual assault peaked during Holi, with 60.5% women on campus telling of aggravated violence on the day of the festival. In 2016, the Delhi Police’s control room received 21 calls complaining of rape and molestation, including three rape cases that were reported by minors on the festival.

To top it all, this normalization of not seeking consent, has seeped in from Bollywood. Writing about women’s chunaris (stoles) and cholis (blouses), Bollywood, through its song, dance and music slyly shoved in close up shots of women’s wet bosoms in songs with heroes like Rajesh Khanna singing, “Chaahe bheege terei chunariya, chaahe bheege re choli, khelenge hum holi” and Priyanka Chopra singing to her own husband Akshay Kumar in Waqt, “Jaa re jaa, don’t touch my choli. Uff ye holi”.

Another reflection of a man taking pleasure from a woman’s harassment on Holi comes through this song from Mohabbatein, where the lyrics say –

Soni soni akhiyon wali
Dil de jaa ya de jaa tu gaali
Ja Kudiye jo kar le
Gora badan tera rang diya
(O one with the beautiful eyes,
Either give me your heart or give me abuses,
Go do whatever you can,
I have coloured your fair body.)

Another song from the 90s, Ang se Ang Lagana, went something like this –

Rapat likhaado rapat likhaado thane meh
Hum bhar denge jurmaana
Ang se ang lagana
Sajan humein aise rang lagana
(File the FIR, file the FIR,
I’ll go to the station to pay the fine,
Touch every part of my body with yours,
O beloved, colour me thus.)

In all these songs, women are objectified and aggressive male sexuality is on display with the man picking the woman up without her will or overpowering her in some other way. Writing for Feminism in India, Shrishti Malhotra mentions that most of the songs begin with the male actor dancing and coloured, while women actors making their entry completely free of colour. If playing with colours is symbolic of people freely enjoying their sexuality and not being coloured symbolises sexual control, then these songs portray men as having no sexual control – for this control is irrelevant. However, for the sake of their individual and societal ‘honour’, women have to be careful about that control, relinquishing it when pushed to the brink by the leading men’s harassment misrepresented as charm.

And now, given the current atmosphere in the country, the saffron brigade, mostly from the Hindi belt in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have started to give the festival a communal colour.

One such example is the rampant dissemination of a song by Sandeep Acharya who calls himself to be Hinduvadi. His song targets Muslim women saying even if you come out on the streets with your brother, we will forcibly smear colour on you.

The song has spread like wildfire on popular social media apps like TikTok and Facebook with sexist and misogynistic captions.

Many Muslims in India don’t play Holi by choice. Not just Muslims, even practicing Catholic nuns, Jain Sadhvis and Khalsa Sikhs don’t celebrate the festival. Practicing Muslims who are in their religious attire which is worn for prayers don't play holi because having clean clothes and clean body is precondition for Namaz.

In 2019, when the brand Surf Excel came out with an advertisement promoting the sentiment ‘Rang Laaye Sang’ (colours bring us together), by depicting a Hindu girl cleverly getting her friends to douse her in colours so that her Muslim friend could safely go for namaz, Hindutva supporters slashed the ad for promoting ‘love jihad’. People are still talking about it in 2020.

 

 

The current call of smearing colour on burqa clad women without their consent is just a regressive fantasy of some who wish to impose their power and supremacy on minorities and women.

The result of such a campaign is that though being visually wrong, it is being spread among people who innocently forward it as a step towards communal harmony, without understanding the actual intention behind it.

This. 

https://twitter.com/iBhupendraHarit/status/1237033115228364802

The disgust cannot be put into words anymore.

Forcibly touching anyone without their consent is criminal. Holi is not an excuse for sexual abuse. The licentious behavior by men is the curse of the society. With this thought turning communal in nature and no one to check its spread, it will result in social destruction that will be beyond control and ruin the psyche of the nation.

 

Related:

Video asking to harass Muslim women on Holi surfaces on social media

How ‘Bura na maano Holi hai’ has undermined the consent of women in India

From casually normalizing abuse to giving Holi a communal colour by targeting minority women, the festival has become more of a nightmare than a celebration

holi

The festival of colors, Holi is here and soon all over one message is set to boom across – ‘Bura na maano, Holi hai (It’s Holi, take no offense).” However, we have been slow to realize what a travesty of consent the above slogan is. Starting by being normalized through Bollywood, the idea of a woman’s consent washed off faster that the color on her. From then to now has come such a time that this festival is now been given a communal colour by the right-wing saffron brigade.

We tell you why the celebration of Holi in its current form is a threat to women throughout India.

For decades, the slogan, “Bura na maano Holi hai”, is being seen as a free pass by some to take advantage of women. They see it as a free pass to touch women inappropriately, either forcefully smearing color on them by approaching them on roads or aiming balloons with ingredients apart from water, at their breasts and genitals. It is during this celebration – one that signifies good over evil – that women have reported being groped, molested and in some cases, raped by men.  In 2018, in New Delhi, a woman was pelted with semen filled balloons on her way home, reported PAPERMAG. In a 2018, Guardian repor, a young woman was attacked by a group of men on the day of the festival, but she was casually dismissed by a policeman on complaining saying they couldn’t do anything about it. A 1996 report by Delhi University on sexual harassment showed how instances of sexual assault peaked during Holi, with 60.5% women on campus telling of aggravated violence on the day of the festival. In 2016, the Delhi Police’s control room received 21 calls complaining of rape and molestation, including three rape cases that were reported by minors on the festival.

To top it all, this normalization of not seeking consent, has seeped in from Bollywood. Writing about women’s chunaris (stoles) and cholis (blouses), Bollywood, through its song, dance and music slyly shoved in close up shots of women’s wet bosoms in songs with heroes like Rajesh Khanna singing, “Chaahe bheege terei chunariya, chaahe bheege re choli, khelenge hum holi” and Priyanka Chopra singing to her own husband Akshay Kumar in Waqt, “Jaa re jaa, don’t touch my choli. Uff ye holi”.

Another reflection of a man taking pleasure from a woman’s harassment on Holi comes through this song from Mohabbatein, where the lyrics say –

Soni soni akhiyon wali
Dil de jaa ya de jaa tu gaali
Ja Kudiye jo kar le
Gora badan tera rang diya
(O one with the beautiful eyes,
Either give me your heart or give me abuses,
Go do whatever you can,
I have coloured your fair body.)

Another song from the 90s, Ang se Ang Lagana, went something like this –

Rapat likhaado rapat likhaado thane meh
Hum bhar denge jurmaana
Ang se ang lagana
Sajan humein aise rang lagana
(File the FIR, file the FIR,
I’ll go to the station to pay the fine,
Touch every part of my body with yours,
O beloved, colour me thus.)

In all these songs, women are objectified and aggressive male sexuality is on display with the man picking the woman up without her will or overpowering her in some other way. Writing for Feminism in India, Shrishti Malhotra mentions that most of the songs begin with the male actor dancing and coloured, while women actors making their entry completely free of colour. If playing with colours is symbolic of people freely enjoying their sexuality and not being coloured symbolises sexual control, then these songs portray men as having no sexual control – for this control is irrelevant. However, for the sake of their individual and societal ‘honour’, women have to be careful about that control, relinquishing it when pushed to the brink by the leading men’s harassment misrepresented as charm.

And now, given the current atmosphere in the country, the saffron brigade, mostly from the Hindi belt in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have started to give the festival a communal colour.

One such example is the rampant dissemination of a song by Sandeep Acharya who calls himself to be Hinduvadi. His song targets Muslim women saying even if you come out on the streets with your brother, we will forcibly smear colour on you.

The song has spread like wildfire on popular social media apps like TikTok and Facebook with sexist and misogynistic captions.

Many Muslims in India don’t play Holi by choice. Not just Muslims, even practicing Catholic nuns, Jain Sadhvis and Khalsa Sikhs don’t celebrate the festival. Practicing Muslims who are in their religious attire which is worn for prayers don't play holi because having clean clothes and clean body is precondition for Namaz.

In 2019, when the brand Surf Excel came out with an advertisement promoting the sentiment ‘Rang Laaye Sang’ (colours bring us together), by depicting a Hindu girl cleverly getting her friends to douse her in colours so that her Muslim friend could safely go for namaz, Hindutva supporters slashed the ad for promoting ‘love jihad’. People are still talking about it in 2020.

 

 

The current call of smearing colour on burqa clad women without their consent is just a regressive fantasy of some who wish to impose their power and supremacy on minorities and women.

The result of such a campaign is that though being visually wrong, it is being spread among people who innocently forward it as a step towards communal harmony, without understanding the actual intention behind it.

This. 

https://twitter.com/iBhupendraHarit/status/1237033115228364802

The disgust cannot be put into words anymore.

Forcibly touching anyone without their consent is criminal. Holi is not an excuse for sexual abuse. The licentious behavior by men is the curse of the society. With this thought turning communal in nature and no one to check its spread, it will result in social destruction that will be beyond control and ruin the psyche of the nation.

 

Related:

Video asking to harass Muslim women on Holi surfaces on social media

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