MArch 5th, 2020:
A HOLI Against hindutva
Ever since Narendra Modi was elected prime minister in 2014, he and the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have put in place a hardline and revisionist brand of Hindu nationalism, known as Hindutva. Hindutva has a long history of erasing India’s myriad of cultures and faiths, aiming to redefine the country into a Hindu civilization and promoting violent and exclusionary attitudes toward Muslims.
We believe that the fight for equal treatment for India’s Muslims is also fundamentally a fight for India’s secularism and democracy. Particularly after the Delhi pogroms, this is a fight for the future, which must be fought by those who will inherit the future.
The goal of this campaign is to amplify the civil disobedience movement persisting across India. We express solidarity with those who have faced the brunt of horrific state brutality and police violence, particularly the student protesters at Jamia Millia and Aligarh Muslim University. We aim to maintain international pressure on the Modi government and amplify the voices of the protestors risking their lives on the real front-lines—not to lead a movement that isn’t ours. As those in the diaspora or those who may be unaffected by the implications of the NRC and CAA, we believe that it is our responsibility to organize in support of those who are fighting for secularism and democracy. As the Modi government refuses to pay heed to the protests across India, we hope that continued international pressure will help tip the scales in the protesters' favor.
Therefore, we invited universities and youth organizations to celebrate #AHoliAgainstHindutva in March of 2020. On March 5th, we will asked protestors to come to predetermined public spaces dressed in black (as opposed to Holi’s traditional white attire) and supplied only one colored powder for Holi: white.
We were not protesting Holi, but rather bringing attention to authoritarian and discriminatory policies like the CAA/NRC. Our executive board had put a lot of thought into these plans and consulted various groups about the symbolism and imagery being used. We wanted to make sure that our messaging targeted Hindutva, not Hinduism, while also not ceding the ground of Hindu culture to the Hindutva agenda.
For years, Holi has been a popular South Asian festival with diverse histories and meanings. It is also important to recognize that the event's history is viewed by many as a casteist commemoration of a Bahujan woman’s burning. The Students Against Hindutva team has made a collective decision to officially change our organizational name from “Holi Against Hindutva” to "Students Against Hindtuva Ideology," as a forward thinking decision to shift the direction of our organization, to work closer with caste abolition activists after careful reflection on the Muslim, Dalit, Bahujan, femme, and Adivasi communities we seek to accompany, learn from, and center in our organizing. Our March protest campaign will remain "A Holi Against Hindutva," to utilize this year's Holi celebration to highlight the grave escalation of violence against Muslims and caste oppressed communities. We will continue to work towards caste abolition, fighting Islamophobia, and organizing our communities towards a stronger student body and voice against Hindutva.
Our goals are to raise awareness, to take a visible stance against Hindutva, and, most importantly, to demonstrate solidarity with protestors in India. This protest marks just one of many actions we hope to continue well into the future; as we begin establishing chapters around the country, we plan to return to the question of what a theory of solidarity looks like and means to us in practice.
To get more information on how to participate or to sign our open letter, join our mailing list. Connect with the movement on social media using #AHoliAgainstHindutva.