Speak Up / Speaking Out

Women, here's what you can learn from Holi!

. 4 min read . Written by Priyanka Sutaria
Women, here's what you can learn from Holi!

Can women get something good out of Holi and its spirit?

The gender-related discussion around the festival of Holi has always been pretty set: it brings to the forefront and promotes a problematic value of Indian culture. This value is the lack of personal boundaries, and by extension, the vacation of consent.

Kool Kanya agrees, because we too know first-hand, how individuals and communities violate the right of people to say ‘no’. This especially affects women, who are more likely to be subject to non-consensual acts – such as harassment and worse – on a day to day basis.

However, we also believe that women have the ability to empower themselves, no matter what the world around them believes about them. Here’s a few ways women can reclaim Holi through the other values of the festival.

Break barriers…

Women have always been born straight into the tight confines of a label: femininity, or rather, enforced selective femininity, which is a cherry-picked idea of how women ought to behave.

Be meek. Be shy, retiring. Do not venture out of the house. Do not engage in physical activities, especially in public. Do not act ‘wild’. Keep yourself under control at all times.

Well, Holi is the exact opposite of that! It is (or perhaps it ought to be, in spirit) a festival of uncontainable joy, a communion of those grateful for the return of spring.

Women are most capable of attitudes aligned with spring—the ability to constantly start anew, the strength to bloom. We should be embracing these qualities!

…While upholding personal boundaries

Any discourse around freedom is incomplete without the reminder that we have the absolute right, at all times, to both define and uphold our personal boundaries; whether they be of touch, of money, relationships or of how we work.

The idea of freedom and transgression, while useful, can often be twisted and reinterpreted as license.

So this day is yet another opportunity to make the foundations of your personal boundaries more solid. It is also a great chance to share messages and resources celebrating the power of consent.

Be a voice for equality!

Holi is also an important reminder that we all have the ability to be a voice for equality.

We are still battling a culture that normalises sexual violence and breeds toxic gender roles.

Women have been fighting this culture for eons, and although it is not our job to labour and educate the misogynistic; we do have the ability to raise our voices against this rape culture.

So raise that voice we know you have, and call out all those problematic cultural things that make our lives harder as women!

Form a toli!

There is nothing more motivating than having a group of girlfriends. Kool Kanya truly believes that behind the success of every woman is the imprint of every woman who has impacted her life.

Holi is such a fabulous time to reunite, reignite, and re-empower.

At the end of the day, after all the sacrifices women make (which they should not have to), we deserve the rewarding warmth of being surrounded by sisterhood.

A toli is also a way to explore the fun side of the festival with a group of friends you trust with your safety and comfort. So this Holi, don’t be afraid of stepping out. Just grab your girlfriends, and go wild. We promise it’ll be a Holi(day) for the books!

Embrace the messy side of life!

Superwoman Syndrome—ever heard of it? It’s when women are pressured into over-exerting themselves to achieve a toxic level of perfectionism.

A side effect of this is the constant beating up of yourself because being perfect is impossible. When we can’t reach the peak of perfection, we blame ourselves for not doing good enough… and the cycle starts all over again.

On this cusp of spring, we propose a different plan. It’s a little fun, somewhat goofy, and (advance warning!) quite a bit messy! Here’s how we do this: we go out and have ourselves a good old Holi, colours, water, laughter, et al.

Our lives are so stuck onto a straight line, and we deserve an adventure. Take the colours of Holi and imbibe them into your everyday life! Embrace your sparkling self, and become the bringer of colour in your own world.

Basically, you are the festival! Become one with that, especially on days when self-doubt nags you.