A friend of mine, on receiving my Holi Greetings this week, writes back with an expletive as follows:
THIS IS A DAY OF GREAT JOY.....AND OF GREAT ENMITY.
ALSO A DAY WHEN WOMEN GET ROUGHED UP AND OFTEN RAPED.
I ADMIRE YOUR HOPES BUT PRABHU PRABHU PRABHU....DONT DEAL OUT THIS (another expletive) TO ME.
I don't know if my readers have had other such responses to greetings they have sent but, if so, I guess we usually keep them quiet or don't know how to respond to them?
I responded saying I responded saying:
"Dear ..., I quite understand your sentiments and am aware of some of the facts you mention.
"However, you and I were brought up on the custom that 'any excuse is good enough for a celebration'.
"If your celebration of your birthday becomes a source of envy and provocation to violence on the part of one of our neighbours just because you are alive, then should I stop sending you best wishes on your birthday, or should I avoid coming to your birthday party? No, I shall continue greeting everyone on every occasion for any festivity connected with births and weddings and "natural" anniversaries.
"However, you raise an important point: should I send out greetings on festivals that celebrate the "victory of good over evil", where evil is defined as either an individual or a group of people? For example, in this case, Holi, where it represents the victory by violence of one tribe of Vishnu worshippers against another tribe of Brahma worshippers who were for some reason allied with what we today call our Dalitbahujans but were then called asuras.
Anyway, I hereby forswear from henceforth sending out any greetings on any such day. I guess the others are mainly Diwali and Dussehra. Though I shall have to watch my step in relation to all festivals from now on!”