Holi is one of our most colourful festivals. Colourful in the literal sense of the term. It is a time for rejoicing, happy get-togethers, feasting and saying adieu to the dreadful winter and welcoming the beautiful spring. But somewhere down the line, the Holi festivities have been taken over by the hooligans and today in some of the North Indian cities nobody ventures out on the day of Holi for fear of being roughed up by the thugs. Their method of celebrating Holi includes throwing balloons filled with dirty stuff, paper bags filled with faecal matter etc. The colouring stuff is made up of harmful chemicals that cause severe skin problems thus creating a huge demand for dermatologists! Some colours do not rub off till the next holi! These colours also change hues with every bath like the old ‘Bleeding Madras’ shirts! It is sad to note that the celebration of New Year Eve is taking a similar turn in Chennai. The hours preceding the break of New Year are virtually in the hands of highly inebriated youth who go on a rampage. A Maruti car, for instance, parked outside the Taj was smashed by the miscreants last year. Eves are not teased but tormented by the roadside Romeos. The Police come out with stern warnings against the miscreants and these warnings create no impact on the thugs but succeed in forcing the law-abiding citizens to stay at home! Several of my friends prefer to stay indoors and watch the muck dished out by the numerous TV channels rather than getting bashed up outside. But with the city already in the grip of the New Year fever, I was witness to an interesting incident at Adayar. The roads were choked with high density traffic and even the pedestrians were finding it difficult to move faster than a snail. Two-wheelers were sandwiched between the milling pedestrian crowd and the city buses. One scooterist nearly lost his life when a bus pulled up so close beside him that his knee brushed against the tyre of the bus. In sheer panic and disgust he aimed a kick at the side of the bus. Two of the passengers of the bus who were drunk jumped down from the moving bus and engaged the scooterist in a wordy duel. Putting pieces of the conversation together, I could make out that the action of the scooterist angered them because they felt that a kick aimed at the bus was a kick aimed at them being occupants of the bus at the material time. Suddenly one of the thugs delivered a violent blow on his head which could have laid him lifeless but for the helmet he was wearing. Before the scooterist could recover from the initial shock, they started punching him on the chest and back and we were standing there helpless and paralysed. The scooterist pleaded with them with folded hands not to hit him but in vain. Just then two men came that way on a mobike, got down from the vehicle and ascertained from the onlookers the reason for the scuffle. They then turned on the thugs and gave them such a thrashing the like of which I have seen only in Rajnikanth movies. As the crowd around rejoiced at this sudden appearance of the good Samaritans and the deliverance of the innocent man, I found myself focusing on the two men. I suddenly found the vision around me dissolving into an ethereal landscape and the two men fusing into a formless light. I heard a faint recitation of Yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya glaanir-bhavati Bhaarata/ Abhyttaana-madharmasya tadaatmaanam srijaamyaham// Paritraanaaya saadhoonam vinaasaaya cha dushkritaam/ Dharma samsthaapanaarthaaya sambhavami yuge yuge// I realised that the two men represented the fulfillment of the Lord’s Promise. In them, I could perceive yet another Avatar. I was filled with a strange glow and I looked forward to another New Year with greater confidence.