Holi Reformers

Every Holi, this group of volunteers don't mind playing spoilsport to protect Khadakvasla Dam from being polluted.

On Wednesday, the day of Holi, while revellers go around painting the town in countless colours and smearing each other's faces, there will be some playing "spoilsports" to protect Khadakwasla Dam from being polluted by Holi colours. Members of Hindu Jagruti Samiti will be forming a human chain, just as they have been doing since 2001, to keep celebrators from jumping into the water and colouring it too. The group will guard the dam on March 27 and 31 from 9 am to 8 pm with a human chain.

Led by Sayali Sahasrabudhe and Parag Gokhale, the volunteers have been growing in number over the last decade with the police also joining hands since the last three years, but stopping revellers is quite an ordeal still. "The first year was the toughest. People would not understand the chain of harmful reactions they would set off if they polluted the dam with colour. For them, it was like a birthright to go for a swim after playing with colours on Holi. We had to make them understand that if the water gets polluted, it will cause diseases that will spread throughout the city," says Gokhale. He adds that since they now have the support of police department, people at least don't create a ruckus.

The plan to secure the dam during Holi is laid out a month in advance by the team. Members meet and discuss measures that must be taken apart from forming the human chain at Khadakwasla. Last year, they gave out handbills to residents of the area on how they can celebrate Holi without wasting or polluting water. They also host talks to spread awareness about the history of the festival and tell people that it is wrong to play Holi with rotten tomatoes, eggs and filth. "It is a religious festival, and must by all means be celebrated with cleanliness. There is nothing wrong with playing with colours, but using the festival as an excuse for throwing filth on each other is wrong. We must also refrain from forcibly throwing colour on people," says Gokhale.

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