Let’s start with a little quiz. In this month of October, we have 20 different festivals in India. No wonder, our country is called the land of festivals.
But can you name them all? (No, Halloween doesn’t count!) Congrats if you know them all! But if you don’t, just stop for a second and think.
How are we aware of every trivial detail of Game of Thrones, but not our very own festivals which attract and intrigue a number of tourists from around the world every year? How and why have we become strangers in our own land?
When I see people going gaga over Obama celebrating Diwali at his residence, or the band members of Coldplay amongst street kids playing Holi in their music video, I’m reminded how some of them have a tendency to treat festivals as mere holidays– getting up at noon, and binge-watching TV shows in their room away from their family. Or maybe caught up in work.
Where has the excitement and involvement gone? Because it surely wasn’t like this since the beginning.
“I see India as a land which has nothing to offer… but bright-eyed enthusiasm. The sights, smells, tastes, sounds…” I find myself rambling to my classmates.
Are they still listening? I wonder. Nope. These people have nodded off because I didn’t give them what they really wanted to hear- the pollution, traffic, exhibitionism, consumerism et al.
And rightly so, we should question ourselves at every step, reflect and also change our damaging practices. And it is especially necessary to call out on anything and everything that degrades our environment.
But it is ‘arm-chair activists’ that really get on my nerves, i.e., one who sits in their armchair or desk chair and blogs or posts about varied social issues on Facebook without ever really doing anything about said issues, or even worse being hypocrites.
For example, people who spend their time and money busy smoking in parties with blaring music complain about the air and noise pollution of Diwali, or people who criticise wastage of water on Holi while they’re busy challenging each other to an ice bucket challenge otherwise and enjoying videos of their favorite celebrities doing so.
The long and short of what I’m saying is that I don’t think it’s fair to reject and snub the idea of Indian festivals in its entirety just because some of us have forgotten its true essence. Because it is common knowledge that these festivals are amongst the most ancient of human activities and it is only in the last couple of years that they’ve been celebrated in the wasteful way we do now.
There is so much that today’s youth can take away from these festivals to enrich their lives.
In metropolitan cities, festivals are the time that you actually get to bond with your family and friends. Many of you must find your relatives confining, but they do have a certain warmth to them (and money :P) that is hard to find elsewhere. Maybe the reason they end up asking superficial questions is because the relationship they share with you hasn’t had a chance to develop. So, next time instead of ditching them for their WiFi password, try getting to know and care about them being a part of the community.
Instead of cribbing about your weight and trying bizarre new fad diets that you found online, take a look at the protein- rich Navratri fast which has an increasing support with the scientific community to ease your over-burdened body. If you’re a messy teenager, Diwali’s norm of cleaning your homes a great way to kick-start your way into a new squeaky-clean existence. Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan for the win! Make it a point to donate all that you have de-cluttered and care for the needy with a de-cluttered mind. Let go of all your class and religious distinctions when you fail to recognise each other amidst all the colours of Holi. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
There are many good people in our society who sincerely care for each other as well as the environment and it is important to not only recognise, but join them to bring back the good times. I have hardly heard any firecrackers in my area this time even when Diwali’s right around the corner. Writing this article in such peace was something I wouldn’t have imagined to be possible five or six years ago.
I feel it is important not only to recognise the efforts that people are putting in, but also to join them in an endeavour to celebrate responsibly and thereby bringing back the good old times which India is known for.
Let’s face it, nobody in the world has such an affinity for festivities as a secular country like India does, and this is what we do best. Because this emotional presence of festivals is unlike anything you can ever experience in your life!
[Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of University Express.]