Pagadi che bol

Holi unholy?

The Punekar questions playing holi in the year we face our worst drought.

Just a few days back, I read the news of those protesting the Pool party in the O Hotel. Their slogan, Garibancha Dushkal ani Shrimantanchi Maja? (The poor face drought while the rich have fun?) had got many voicing against the wastage of water in times we face severe drought conditions, and rightly so. I completely agree with them and would readily agree that all pool parties be banned in Maharashtra for the time being. (Even after the protests staged, their website clearly shows pool parties being organised each Sunday.
So now comes the time to doing the same for the upcoming festivals of Holi, Rangapanchami or Dhulvad, when we all enjoy playing with colours and getting soaking wet in water. Are we really so naive to splurge our precious water in the name of festivities when there are those dying of thirst? In some traditions, colours are played during Holi.
In Maharashtra it is either on Rang Panchami or Dhulvad (March 27th). It can be called a festival of abundance, like the la tomatina festival celebrated in Spain and some other countries. But this year, thanks to insufficient rainfall and poor waste water management and the lack of rain water harvesting, we now have to be careful of every drop of water. We no longer live in an India where everything is aplenty, where once stood one of the densest forest (Dandak Forest) now stands barren lands. This year, celebrating Holi with colours is not being religious but being blind and ignorant of the problems we face.
The drought however, is not something we can blame the Gods or the weather for, it is ourselves to blame. As Anna Hazare puts it, “ The drought in Maharashtra is man-made”. He points out that the combine of political apathy and corruption coupled with rampant exploitation of water resources is responsible for these conditions in the state. And as Raj Thackeray puts it, if we can have man-made lakes created in Lavasa and Amby Valley, why can’t we give water for sustainable reasons at least to villages and cities? We are to blame for all that is happening and so is the Government, for if Gujarat can provide water in desert lands like Kutch to create acres of farming industries, why can’t we?
Save_water_2This is the worst drought in the state since 1972 and we on our parts can take small steps to help ourselves and others. Take a stand against all the misuse of water, create better avenues for rain water harvesting and water conservation and find ways to treat and reuse sewage water. But more that that, we can say no to playing Holi, Rangapanchami and Dhulivandan this year. Do we even lack the understanding that the rain dance celebration, playing colours in lakes and dams that provide us with drinking water and the basic wastage of water for fun, will come to haunt us the minute there won’t be enough water for cooking, bathing or worse clenching our thirst.
This holi, understand its true essence. Holi is about burning our evil thoughts and bad habits along with the holi bonfire and beginning a new change within ourselves and that of our surroundings.