In the past four months since leaving my country India, I have realised, my deep rooted Indianness. I heard someone once say, you can take a person out of a country but never country out of a person. I understand that expression now, fully, emotionally and bodily.
The festival of Holi just passed two days ago, and I am sad that I couldn’t celebrate this colorful festival of expression and naughtiness fully. I remember on several occasions being picked up by my friends and thrown into a colored pool of cold water. The minute the water strikes you, you are gripped by this naughty child-like vengeance to do the same to your friends. People run and hide but still want to be in the game, all inhibitions gone. People are dancing to the music, and cajoling their shy partners, children, family and friends to join in the merriment. Each person is sought out and colored and splashed with water, laughter, giggles, shrieks, songs, dance, hugs, kisses behind the scene, fights, arguments, are all a part of holi, a festival of deep expression and healing. This festival brings a sort of catharsis for the inner child and lover, which on a normal day finds no space or expression. All of this is accentuated by a drink of Bhaang (marijuana), the color and the intoxication takes days to fade off.
For me, Holi is an authentic, uninhibited, raw celebration of life!!! All expressions are welcomed with open arms. A common line used is “Bura na mano holi hai”(Don’t take it personally, its holi”). In India people of all religions celebrate holi, it is said that playing Holi is the best way to appease an angry friend or to forgive an enemy. This purging of emotions every year creates new space for more life, releases baggages and allows formation of fresh bonds.
Today I am inspired from Holi and wish to bring my understanding of Human expression. Holi is a celebration of what is outside of ‘Normal’ and I have always been curious about, what is ‘normal’? What does it mean to be a ‘normal’ human being? Through these questions and life experiences I have come to realise that being normal is to learn skill sets which help you govern, manage and control your expressions and emotions, so that the systems don’t feel threatened by too many different behaviours. In order for any system or process to keep running itself successfully– whether it is part of a business, governing body, society, family etc.–a set of behaviours have been put forth as appropriate and normal. Any behaviour outside of this realm is considered abnormal or dysfunctional: something that needs to be changed.
Modernisation has brought in many boons, but one of the bane it has brought in is loss of full expression. There is just no time for it. True human evolution thus has become allusive. In such an circumstance all continue to survive with limited expression. People in the modern world know that, although everything seems all right, deep within something is missing, something is terribly wrong. Human beings crave for full expression.
Ancient cultures understood this human need for purging and expression. These cultures instituted spaces of expressions in form of various celebrations one of which is Holi. Ancient cultures realised that in absence of full expression we become human doing not human being. We are constantly outsmarting each other in number of things we know to do or are doing. The expressions of love, sadness and anger are exiled from such ‘normal’ systems and their is place only for joy. There is a lot of pressure on such ‘normal’ people to look confident and joyful all the time, many are able to master the skill and others just keep falling off the grid trying hard to learn to be appropriately joyful and confident. They start to feel there is something wrong with them and are in constant self doubt. The modern world, through research on human psyche has also brought new professions in the market to normalise people, make them feel ‘Joy’. Everyone I talk to either is in therapy themselves or knows someone who is in therapy.
Suppression of certain expressions in society cause many shadows and exiles to emerge in our psyche, which hide in our unconscious.When the collective of a culture is impacted by limited expression, a collective shadow of this culture emerges. The oppression of these angry and sad exiled parts leads the way for ‘abnormal’ phenomenon to occur in such cultures, societies. It may lead to:
- Choosing a Leader who represents a larger part of the unconscious –there are many examples of this, from Hitler in the past to Trump in the present–.
- Violence, which remains unexplained, has no trigger and seems to be in an unending loop
- Suicidal behaviors, which may not be only limited to an individual, or a society, but encompasses all humanity. e.g. Human’s engaging in everyday behaviors that will destroy the planet on which they depend.
Every human being is capable of experiencing all emotions, and thoughts. However when we start denying certain emotions in the self, we start projecting it on the others. This is where the separation occurs, which goes then to say ‘I am’, ‘She/he is’ and differences start emerging. Separation is the seed of all that we do not accept in self. We are in competition with the ‘other’, we believe we are superior to the ‘other’ etc.
Celebrations like Holi bring the acceptance of varied colors and emotions that are part of our normal psyche. Similar to the carnivals of the west, which allow the king to become pauper and pauper become the king. Such celebrations allow the inner child to play, the lover to be naughty, the enemy to be a friend, rich to be poor and poor to be rich. The merging of colors and creation of new hues that spread out through our body creates new ways of being.
During this week of Holi I would call for revolution! A revolution of expression, a revolution of celebrations! A revolution that allows people to be who they are, happy- sad- angry-hurt, allowing them their being, without judgement. I know it will be difficult as we are conditioned to relate to human beings only in response to their behaviors, through what they do, what they show. But deep down within we have the ancient wisdom of seeing the being and allowing all expression, and it all starts with allowing ‘the self’ to experience all the expressions. Let us get past our fear of our unknown: suppressed expressions and get to know ourselves more, get to know your spouse, your children, your family, friends, neighbors! Allow expression! Allow all colors within you and around you! Allow Holi!