Underneath the color and celebration lies a dark side of the festival for local participants
While several other global celebrations get their due—Carnival, the Running of the Bulls, Oktoberfest—many foreigners are starting to get hip to India and Nepal’s two-day Holi festival. The event is a celebration of love and the triumph of good over evil, but mostly, it just looks like a lot of fun.
Timed with the arrival spring, the festival is marked by thousands of revelers covering each other in colorful powders, creating an environment like nothing you’ve ever seen.
As with many celebrations, as word spreads, iterations of the festival are popping up throughout the world, but those in India and Nepal remain bigger and brighter than those anywhere else.
As fun and as jubilant as the affair looks, much of the celebration is marred as revelers turn a blind eye to groping and sexual harassment during the festivities. The problem has become bad enough that many women choose not to participate. Some are even put on lockdown in their dorms by their schools or their families. It’s shameful that more people aren’t serving as advocates for the right of women to enjoy a festival of love without having to worry about being objectified or assaulted.
Hopefully, as the event gets more attention, the behavior will be curbed, but until then, it’s a bittersweet celebration, at best.