The festival of “Holi” in India signifies the onset of spring. While there is a story behind the festival, it is celebrated in most parts of India through sprinkling of colours on one another after the burning of Holika and performance of puja.
While the world talks today of DEI ( Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) and most organisations make a fuss about it, India celebrated the festival of Holi over many centuries and celebrated diversity in true spirit every year.
In my view “Holi” signifies equality and equity of all people. It does not differentiate based on religion, caste, creed or socio-economic status. The spirit of this festival is lived in India over generations.
Whether in communities, villages, towns or cities or within the precincts of organisations, everyone is deemed equal and celebrates this festival without any discrimination based on any factor.
I love this festival of colours as it truly represents the spirit of India’s diversity. I have played Holi across the length and breadth of our country. It not only celebrates the onset of spring but also promotes brotherhood and humanism at large.
While some say that the spirit behind this festival of diversity, equity and inclusion may have faded a bit, it is for us as individuals and as a collective to rekindle this spirit and promote the camaraderie in the societies where we live in today.
If we look back at our history as a nation, we have lived harmoniously irrespective of multiple religions, castes and ethnicities, peacefully co-existing over centuries. We have been threatened by invaders time and again and even the British tried to divide and rule but they did not succeed.
Today on the occasion of our 75th year of independence, it is upto us to resolve to preserve and promote this inherent diversity in our society. If there are forces within our society or outside which negate this spirit, we need to challenge them and be proud of our culture and heritage.
I have worked and lived in north, south, west, east and centre of India. I can proudly say that I am an Indian first and then belong to a state or a city. I have lived and thrived in every place I lived and have been respected and regarded by all communities.
Today, we are at a juncture where the world is looking at India and China as the super powers of the future. There could be strategies to derail our growth and development as a nation. But we need to preserve our rich cultural past and create a future of our choice built on this great foundation.
We have 28 states and 8 union territories in India. Each state almost speaks a different language and each of the languages also have multiple dialects. At the national level we use Hindi or English for official communication with the Centre and between states. However, we live and breathe as one nation. This is the spirit of India we can be proud of. Our Constitution guarantees us to live and thrive in any part of India and enjoy our heritage.
Let us continue to celebrate unity in diversity and share the spirit of “Holi” in our everyday lives.
I salute this spirit on the occasion of “Holi” today.
S Ramesh Shankar
7th March 2023