Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Festivals and celebrations: How have we failed terribly?

Before I begin to speak my heart out on this matter, let me give a gentle disclaimer that whatever I express here is a piece of my opinion and has no inclinations towards any caste, colour, creed, region or religion. I am just venting my emotions out and expressing the grievances I’ve been facing as a common man who’s trying to live a normal life.

So, why are we Indians so mad about celebrations? Is it our love for the kind of happiness it brings to us? Is it because we love our religion so much? Is it because we want others to know that we too can enjoy and have fun? Or is it the fact that we get to burn fireworks? It all funnels down to one prime reason. We love fireworks. It tugs my heart when I say; today’s generation has no idea why they are celebrating any festivals. If they knew, they would celebrate festivals for the reason why they actually came into existence rather than the reason what they wanted it to be.

I am not blaming today’s youth; not at all. As I come from a typical middle class family myself, I too once loved the brief stint of firing crackers. But soon I realised, it is not making any sense. I am burning away money just like cigarettes. My parents came from a poor family and a place where celebrations were purely a traditional thing. Fireworks were all for rich people to celebrate. My parents worked hard day and night, earned enough money so that we could enjoy the kind of celebrations which they never could. I still feel proud of the idea that, they wanted our future to be brighter than theirs. So, where did all this go wrong? I would say – LOVE! Love made them blind.

During the 60s, population of the country was about 43+ crores and the industry scenario was quite nascent. The pollution level in those days was bare minimum as compared to this day. There were hardly thousands of automobiles, and hundreds of factories. So, celebrating with fireworks didn’t affect people as it’s doing today. Many would argue on this. If the environmentalists haven’t been able to curb industrial pollution for ages, why fuss about fireworks, which is hardly an ounce of the entire cause of pollution? The answer to this is – it is really not a question about pollution, it is about the legacy of traditions we are trying to leave behind. Our parent’s love could have made them do what they did and they might have been the reason for our addiction to fireworks. It is hardly an annual affair they say. But how long does the effect stays? What impact does it make on our surroundings? Are we doing it right?
I might seem religiously biased here and many might say I am against the Hindu culture, Hindu traditions and mythology. But, I have many bigger concerns. For instance, if Diwali is a festival of Light, why do we pollute it with Sound? If Holi is a festival of Colours, why do we waste Water? Our parents never taught this to us. So, from where are we learning this? Is it what we call Evolution? Or is it just a new trend in the kind of Celebration? We all can very well feast on it and spend a day with our loved ones in our home (if we’ve stayed away from home for a long time) or visit a place we’d always wanted to visit. When and why did fireworks become our life? Oh! The mayor won the election – Let’s fire some crackers. Oh! India won the match – Let’s fire some crackers. Oh! My wife had a baby boy – Let’s fire crackers. In the end, we just find some reasons to do what we are addicted to do, and fireworks are just means to do it. Festivals these days have no life in it because of this very reason – there is no soulful purpose to celebrate. And that’s the reason I feel dejected.

Our country is a land of diversity and I respect every bit of it. I’ve made friends from different regions and learned quite a lot from every one of them. They have their own opinions about festivals and I would love to be a part of every festival in every corner of India. But one thing that stops me is, the way it’s celebrated. I stay away from home and I don’t get to be with my family for all the festivals, and on those days, while I am at work, I really hate to go out and hit the road. The way fireworks are burst in the middle of the road, I fear for my life. It’s not my hatred for fireworks that’s making me write all this, but it’s the love for my own life. I don’t want to end up on the road asphalted by a garbage truck. I don’t want to go blind while I am driving, nor I want to end up on a wheelchair. I don’t understand why festivals have to be the cause for roadblocks? Celebration is not an issue unless they don’t bring ruthless sufferings to a common man.

I see many slum kids on the roadside. They too dream of celebrating like everyone does. They might not have the luxuries we have; they might not be as rich as us and may be they too want to be happy, but at what cost? I see the firework shops being installed right beside the busy traffic lanes and there is no concern for safety of the people. We always blame terrorists for causing havoc to nations, but in my view, the psychology like this, is more like a Traditional Terrorism. Unless we try to preserve the core purpose why festivals are celebrated, we would keep exploiting them with our own reasons and everyone would actually love it. They might call it a “New Generation Festival”, but I see a dark future for our children if this is the trend, as they say. I would not want to suffocate their world with ghastly air of misinformation and flagrance for our own culture. If this is what we want to pass on as our legacy, I would just say – PASS!

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