For generations, Holi has been one of the most eagerly anticipated of all festivals, but that has changed with the arrival of the millennial generation. So what’s the reason for their lack of excitement and enthusiasm for the festival of color? Is it just a lack of time with busy schedules and long working hours, or is there more to the dwindling revelry. Here are 10 reasons why many millennials don’t celebrate Holi the way we used to.
With drought affecting farmers across the nation and scientists warning of an impending water crisis, millennials are a lot more concerned about water conservation than any previous generation. Water wastage is frowned upon by them, and festivities that involve throwing water balloons and using pichkaris are an absolute no-no.
These youngsters are also increasingly conscious of social inequalities and have great empathy for those who are less fortunate. To them, frivolous activities like attending rain dances to celebrate Holi seem almost callous. Instead of participating in such forms of merry-making they prefer to take up social causes like helping spread awareness about climate change, visiting orphanages, and so on.
Millennials may be extremely well-connected and have hundreds of friends, but most of these are only ‘Facebook friends’. With the increasing popularity of social networking and messaging sites, people have few real friends with whom they form close relationships; instead they have plenty of acquaintances. Nuclear families have also become the norm in cities, which means that there is less social interaction at home as well. Neighbors rarely stroll in an out of each others’ houses as they once did and people are more disconnected than ever. Celebrating Holi just isn’t much fun when there isn’t any community bonding!
Traditionally, colors used in Holi celebrations were made from natural substances like herbs, but this changed with industrialization. Millennials are well aware of the chemicals present in synthetic colors that are sold today. Metal oxides, lead, petrol, and other substances commonly used in colors are toxic and can cause a variety of health complications. Not surprisingly, millennials prefer to avoid the festivities altogether.
Holi may be a time for celebration, but the merry-making has also earned some disrepute in recent times because of the unsavory crowds that it attracts. Millennials are put off by the rowdy and rambunctious hordes, who often use the festival as an excuse to get intoxicated and misbehave!
Millennials are more aware about the threats to our environment than any generation before and the issue of climate change has made them very eco-friendly. Holi festivities have been linked to several environmental issues, as many independent studies have proved that it has a significant and lasting ecological impact. While the bonfires contribute to extensive deforestation, the colors used for Holi remain in water bodies as they do not degrade. When birds and animals drink this contaminated water, the heavy metal-based pigments become a part of the ecosystem. In addition, stray animals and pets alike are often doused in these hazardous colors.
Cultural globalization is a long-term process that has been expedited by social media, the internet and international travel. While some people welcome this change, there are others who fear that this will lead to a westernized consumer culture, in which we lose our cultural diversity. While this debate is far from settled, it is indisputable that global culture has taken the wheel and that Holi is not celebrated on the same scale as it was in the years gone by.
It is estimated that over 3 lakh Indians go abroad annually for further studies. This means that there are over 30 lakh millennials currently out of the country. The families of these students tend to prefer low-key celebrations as the youngsters are generally the ones who organize the festivities and they are also the life of the party. As modern methods of video communication have become prevalent, relatives of overseas students prefer to simply wish them for Holi and chat on Skpe.
Millennials often prefer quiet family get-togethers to boisterous community celebrations, so some of them adopt different styles of celebrating Holi. Family dinners, picnics, outings, and even weekend getaways are a lot more popular with this bunch. They also regard this as a much better way to celebrate without any wastage of money or natural resources, while enjoying quality family-time.
Youth today are money conscious as they have greater financial responsibilities, including student, home and automobile loans. When they do splurge, millennials prefer to spend on gadgets and gizmos as technology is now a major part of their lifestyle. Rather than spending tens of thousands on a celebration that lasts for just 2-3 days, young adults would rather buy a cell phone that can last for years. Given the exorbitant rates for renting decorations, it makes sense to simply skip the bells and whistles and have a simple celebration with just family and friends.
With all of these concerns, increased awareness, and a change in focus, it is not surprising that Holi has become a damp squib. But all of this notwithstanding, millennials are quite an innovative bunch and they still love traditions. What remains to be seen is how they reinvent and reinvigorate the festival to match their modern sensibilities.