Later, the gigantic idols are tugged along to the places where they are installed on trucks accompanied by drum-beating and hooting hooligans. Hooligan festivals can always be spotted kilometers away by the decibel levels alone. After all, what is fun without some hooting! Needless to say, the trucks slowly lugging the enormous statues move along as moving roadblocks -- that is another characteristic feature of hooligan festivals. The revellers inconvenience the travelling public under the guise of the larger (read hooligan) interests. The travelling public have little option but to grit their teeth and swear.
Another common feature of all hooligan-directed festivals is the invasion of the public roads. All of a sudden, arches and stadia come up right in the middle of wide city roads. Many times, I have been left wondering whether I am in the right place, when roads which were okay the previous day grew huge mid-road stadia, with chairs, mikes and chairs for public. The municipality and corporation authorities who bend over backwards to evict slum-dwellers and hawkers making a living out of footpaths are nowhere to be seen when entire stretches of roads are taken over by hooligans with mikes and hoots.
Senior-level executives of a well-known
MNC reporting to duty on Holi
Spirituality takes the backseat in all hooligan festivals, pushing many religious-minded people out of this lunatic revelry. I have come across several families who are religious enough to offer prayers to the Ganesha God at home but stay miles away from the hooligan-directed festivals.
As the momentum for immersion builds, hooliganism builds up. I work in a part of Mumbai city which is the hub of Ganesha idols. On evenings when I leave work, I see hoardes of unemployed, illiterate, ugly and uncouth revellers returning after their day's "work", hooting and making an ear-piercing noise with a sort of whistle. People who give dirty looks when a bike revs up can be seen happily hooting along.
Chaos is symptomatic of all hooligan festivals. if you have any doubts, check the newspapers the day after the immersion process to read news of people drowned during immersion, people stamped to death in the melee and women molested in the crowds.
Holi is another festival hijacked by hooligans. Anyone living in Mumbai and had to go to office on Holi day utilising the services of the suburban railway will know what I am talking about. They can skip this section. The train rolls into the station with splotches left by rotten vegetables, drain water, eggs and sometimes, glasses broken by stones thrown by god-fearing hooligans celebrating the festival of colours. I suggest that Holi be renamed 'the festival of drain water and rotten eggs'. All the windows and doors will be shut. The train will be a multicoloured slum winding on along the suburban tracks.
Those Holi travellers who are naive enough to leave the windows opened are welcomed by sudden splashes of drain water, which instantly spreads its fragrance inside the entire coach, and inviting abuses from fellow passengers. Mess with a potential-drencher, and the festival of colours will spread into your boring, non-hooligan life by way of colourful slum language.
And don't snigger, you car-owners, hooligans and their festivals don't spare you. Leave your beauty parked in hooligan zone and you will be my standard bearers in no time after a single Holi experience.
Forget the travelling bit, I dare not step out of my house on Hooligan-hijacked days like this. Even as you step out of the lift and walk out, expect a bucketful of water to come crashing down. Whether you like or not, colours are on you, Holi aayee re! Hormone-imbalanced hooligan youth specialise in throwing of coloured water and if you happen to be around, you can also join in the hooligan fun.
Here too, accidents happening as a result of hooliganism is significant. The day after Holi, read newspapers to find out how mahy people lost sight due to toxic colours in water, how many fights broke out because someone threw water on somebody's wife, and how ordinary and extra-ordinary people have been put to inconvenience. What's even more surprising, in the days leading up to Holi, see advertisements in newspapers which explain how the festival can be celebrated in the true spirit and stuff. I don't know of any hooligan who has been encouraged yet by such ads to stay off his hooligan ways.
Another such festival is Gokulashtami where hooligans climb one on top of the other in great hooligan-pyramids and reach the top of the heap to break the curd pot and their legs; occasinally heads. Recently, an innovative scheme was offered by an insurance company to cover the medical costs when such hooligans break their leg in their spiritual ascent. I suggest such hooligans be denied treatment at all government hospitals. Why should public money be spent on irresponsible hooligans? But I don't have much against this particular festival since it is only the hooligans alone are inconvenienced -- the general public is spared.
Diwali is not far behind, the festival of bombs and lightning. This is not your peaceful festival of lights anymore. When you walk along, expect bombs to go off between your legs and rockets whizzing past you, if you are lucky that is. If you are a little less lucky, expect to land up in a hospital with one eye gone or a flamethrower leaving you skinless. Again, there are no lights here. Many hooligans too end up in hospitals; but since they initiate the blast, we have no sympathy for them. Crackers are thrown right at you, windows of trains are shut tight and when you walk along, you keep a wary eye on the sidewalks to see who is aiming the next bomb at you. We do not hear yet of old people's hearts saying bye-bye when an 'atom bomb' goes off outside their building, but I suspect such facts are hidden in the view of cultural sensitivity. Many asthmatics escape the city when pollution levels rise, for fear of death or near-death. The hooligans' relatives and parents too many be among them, but no way that will stop the hooligans from attempting to kill asthmatics.
As the festivals loom, I hastily look up my insurance policy; yes, all premia are paid; even if I land up in hospital because some hooligans threw a bomb, at least I will be spared the ensuing medical bomb.
BY OUR HOOLIGAN CORRESPONDENT