In 2014, instead of drenching neighbours and painting them in various chemical paints, 14 families of Vishal Apartments, Juhu, Mumbai, sprinkled flower petals on each other like confetti. Spurred by the water shortage, Vinod Bharatiya, a resident, came up with the idea of placing tiny cotton bags full of rose and marigold petals in the compound. Residents picked these up and showered unsuspecting passersby before going on to bond over samosas and jokes.
This year, in view of Maharashtra’s water crisis and farmer suicides due to severe drought, several residential complexes and buildings are rethinking their Holi celebrations. While a few are planning to cut down on the use of water on March 24, some are contemplating a dry Holi. The latter include huge housing complexes such as the 144-flat strong Avanti Niketan Cooperative society in Chembur and the 600-odd flats at Oberoi Springs in Andheri, where rain dance was a standard part of the Holi festivities. Recently, BJP corporator and MLA Ameet Satam urged the municipal corporation to impose a fine of up to Rs 50,000 on citizens who play with water during Holi but it isn’t fear so much as concern that is driving many societies to opt for a dry Holi.
According to The Times Of India, in gated communities of the city a network of WhatsApp, Google and Facebook groups have made passionate appeals. “Isn’t there something vulgar about indulging in rain dance when farmers are committing suicide?” asks one resident on the Facebook page of a 1,550-flat gated community on Jogeshwari Vikhroli Link Road, which brings in five water tankers of 12,000 litres each for Holi. “It just does not feel right to waste tankers of water on a festival when many villages, not too far from us, are going to have an extremely difficult time surviving. As a show of solidarity, maybe we could also donate the money set aside for tankers to any NGO working with farmers,” reads this Facebook post.