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Hautetalk: On Holi, Conversations About Consent Need To Go Beyond Gender

March 06, 2023 | by Janvi Manchanda

You know that one thing that we always hear on Holi – Bura na mano, Holi hai. This is the perfect excuse that we all have to get away with some of the craziest pranks. But what started with just colours, has escalated over the years. People have gone from playing Holi to playing dirty with eggs and mud and whatnot but that’s not all. Despite all the talk around Holi and consent, we still haven’t learnt how to respect people and their boundaries irrespective of gender.

Sure, we hear people talking about consent and respecting women and not using Holi as an excuse to misbehave with them. But in 2023, consent and boundaries aren’t limited to just one gender. In this woke era, we need to understand that just like women, men also have boundaries that must be respected. Let’s think about this. Men also experience trauma and stress. What if the person you’re forcefully splashing with colour is a trauma victim and feels triggered after your actions? Or what if the person you’re pushing into the pool has hydrophobia? Or the person on whose face you’re applying colour is allergic to colour or had claustrophobia? Is it worth all the fun if you trigger someone and spoil the festive fun for them? All this might be Holi fun for you but it’s not fun for them. You’re enjoying this festival at their cost and what’s worse is that no one has ever even thought, what if someone has an injury that gets aggravated because you threw them in the pool? Or what if someone sustains an injury that spoils more than just this one-day festival for them? Or someone has a panic attack? Not so much, huh?

Also Read: 5 Non-Sexist Songs We Struggled To Find For Your Holi Playlist. Bura Maano, This Number Is So Low!

Holi is supposed to be a festival of fun, colours and delicious food and while I’m all for pranks, we need to learn where to draw the line with people irrespective of gender. Since time immemorial, this festival has been used as an excuse to cross the line and misbehave with people. It starts with pranking people who dislike playing Holi and goes as far as violating women’s bodies and touching them inappropriately. How can we expect people to respect and seek consent when we can’t even get them to respect personal space and boundaries? Bura na mano, Holi hai – has been an excuse to violate people’s personal space and boundaries on Holi. But bura mano because Holi hai! The purpose of celebrating Holi is to celebrate a triumph of good over bad but what’s the point of celebrating this festival when we simply use it as an excuse to get away with bad deeds?

Also Read: From Crop Tops To Playsuits, Here Are 6 Ways To Embrace The Beauty Of Bandhani This Holi

This Holi, let’s vow to respect people, their choices, personal space and boundaries. If someone does not want to play Holi, that’s not a challenge for you to put colour on them. If someone does not want to drink bhaang, it’s not for you to spike their drink for fun (it’s a crime)! This Holi, let’s not presume that someone likes playing with colours or is okay with being thrown in the pool. Make sure to ask for consent and respect it if they say no. Also, can we please not attack strangers with water or dirt balloons?

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Janvi Manchanda

Janvi uses her pen to smash the patriarchy. Geet one day and Wednesday Addams the next. Writing is the bane of her existence and the object of all her desires!

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