HOLI, the festival of colours is another example of how the otherwise male-dominated society, tried to let the women enjoy their and the opposite sex’s sensuality. Much before the branch of Freudian Psychoanalysis reached India, the Indians were already practicing what Freud and Carl Jung had started to observe in European and German societies. Let’s take a look at what Freud had to say about a human personality and how Indian festivals like Holi demonstrates some of his ideas.
Freud analyzed the human psyche in terms of three elements, which he calls, the Id, Ego, and Super-Ego. The Id is the unorganized part of the psyche that contains a human’s instinctual drives. The pleasure principle drives the Id to seek immediate gratification of all needs, wants, and desires.Like a child biting or crying as he/she wishes or in time of crisis even adult does desperate movements such as biting nails and scratching bellies. Clearly instant gratification of these desires is not always possible and thus psychological tension is created that needs to somehow be discharged. The desires of the Id give rise to the Ego, which is generally the component of the psyche that ensures that the impulses of the Id are expressed in a way that is acceptable to the real world. The Ego operates according to the reality principle.
The Ego has a set of psychic functions able to distinguish between fantasy and reality. It organizes thoughts and makes sense of the world. The Ego represents reason and common sense. The ego is said to serve three masters: the external world, the Id, and the Super-Ego. The Super-Ego is the third part of Freud’s system. The Super-Ego reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly taught by parents applying their guidance and influence. The Super-Ego aims for perfection. It is a psychic agency that criticizes and prohibits ones drives, fantasies, feelings, and actions. The Super-Ego works in contradiction to the Id because it strives to act in a manner that is socially appropriate.
Festivals such as Holi become such accepted platforms for common people to express their suppressed feelings. On this one day, men become approachable by showing some compassion while applying colours, playing pranks, singing songs and dancing. And on the other hand, women are allowed to wear revealing clothes(that’s why those tight white salwar suits feature in Bollywood’s Holi songs), shout loudly, use the four letter words or pass lewd remarks at men without being procrastinated.
But in this urban rootless life of modern Indians, they forget the true spirit with which these festivals were created. Ironically, Holi which marked complete pleasure for everyone, has become another instance where in the garb of tradition, young perverts turn to hooliganism. They try to satisfy their carnal desires by molesting young girls caught unaware on streets while looking out for pure fun on this one day which actually represents nothing else but happiness. And this is when I once again consider myself lucky to be living in Meghalaya, one of the few surviving matrilineal societies of the world. Although I miss the Pichkari, balloons and my gujiyas here in Shillong, I find there is actually no reason to celebrate Holi on one specific day here. Because, for women, every new day is a Holiday as she is free to give in to her carnal desires, worldly pleasures and loving glances from the opposite sex as she if free to celebrate her life every day. But for others, may be these lines will summarise the importance of colours: