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Holi and harassment

Drinking, taking drugs and getting high, and molesting women has been severe problems during the holi.

2022 Mar 16, 7:56, Kathmandu

Holi, the traditional Hindu festival of colours, is supposed to be played with simplicity; smearing colours on each other, sharing happiness, giggling, and having delicious delicacies since it is celebrated as the victory of good over evil.

However, we can see many people rationalize it with partying all night long; drinking, taking drugs and getting high, and harassing women. At the time of Holi, women, mostly, are the ones who are harassed and molested by having water balloons thrown at them and colours being smeared on them without their consent

According to Metropolitan Police Nepal’s Information Officer, Santosh Singh Rathore, “Most cases filed during Holi are of groping and/or unwanted touching.” NepalNews has also conversed with a few people for their view on Holi and harassment. 

Speaking to Pratima Bhattarai, she says, “I was once at my friend’s home for Holi. While we were about to leave, a guy came toward me and started smudging colours on my face and then gradually his hands were on my chest.”

“I screamed and pushed him back. I was just in class 9 when this incident happened. It left me devastated and scared,” she adds.

Thinking that the Holi is the golden opportunity to harass someone is wrong. “Their mentality and courage to assault someone is something that surprised me,” Bhattarai adds.

Similarly, Abhishek Gupta says, “A friend of mine was walking near her home around 11 in the morning. Right then, a few guys came and groped her saying, ‘Don't feel bad, it’s Holi.’ They proceeded to rub colours on her body."

“It all happened so fast that she was shaken and stayed frozen. She didn’t know what to do and then started crying. After a while, a friend and I reached there and she still could not stop crying.”

Being a man, it angered Gupta so much that he was in tears just by looking at her friend. At that moment, he wanted to find those guys and punish them, though violence is not an option. But sadly they already left and he could do nothing as he didn’t know them.

“As a man, it sickens me that other men are doing such disgusting things to women, thinking that they are alone and can’t defend themselves,” he says. In his thinking, such people should be strictly punished and kept in jail.

Yashwini Bantawa says, “I have always feared celebrating Holi outside my home because of the kind of assault women face. Of course, that does not mean I don’t want to celebrate and enjoy myself with my friends.

“My mother is also very scared of letting me go outside and I completely understand why. Though things may not be as bad as it was some years ago, women are still harassed.”

Just hearing stories about the assault during Holi is enough to keep girls like Bantawa from enjoying themselves. Women are targeted even today during the festival. It takes a change of mindset and a lot of learning and awareness to change this sad reality of our society. It’ll take longer for women to forget the trauma.


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