Festival Fever

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Festivals are looked forward to eagerly, the world over; some known to everybody while others known to a smaller community. There are festivals for every season, reason, religion and faith. Some of them are brief in their festivities while others carry on for days; some entail fasting before the big day while others require fasting on the day that is celebrated! One thing that stands common amongst all is that they are here to bring the community closer, to spread cheer, love and brotherhood.


Since the festivals and celebrations have been carrying on for centuries, calendars are marked and the excitement begins well before the actual day of celebration. Shopping for new clothes and accessories, cooking delicacies, holiday plans (either to visit family or to cater for their arrival), rituals and arranging for them (visiting the place of faith, or decorating with lamps and lights, ornaments and more) are a few activities that begin well in advance of the D-day and bring with it animated discussions, laughter and bonhomie.


In India the festivals are aplenty. In fact, as children, we used to be excited to see the New Year calendar hoping that all festivals fell on weekdays so that we could get extra holidays. Our kids do that now! 




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In most Hindu festivals, the feast emphasises on a variety of mouth watering sweetmeats after a freshly cooked vegetarian spread, which is why my children are never too eager for festivals as they are happy with their usual non-vegetarian spread followed by anything that is chocolate based. They don’t have to wait for festivals to get new clothes either so even that charm cannot lure them. Since the stress is on “Go Green” they don’t feel like bursting crackers anymore and while they look at the lights everywhere due to our excitement mostly, they’d rather look at the light emanating from their mobile phones! The only reason my children get dressed and show seeming eagerness is to avoid a moral lecture from either or both parents for their lack of enthusiasm! They have been told the mythological/religious significance behind each festival and they never show signs of being charmed by the tales. Believe me, teenagers are something else!!


Back to festivals, Diwali or Deepavali (festival of lights) is a major festival in India that is celebrated by all despite its origins being in Hinduism, the other such festival being Holi (the festival of colours). This year it fell on 07 November 2018. It is always celebrated on a New Moon. Diwali to an average person means new clothes, a plethora of sweets, gambling (a day prior) and crackers of all kinds! You meet people, exchange gifts mostly sweets and there is a lot of bonding during this time, all past battles forgotten! The fact that it had to do with Lord Rama returning to his Kingdom of Ayodhya to be crowned King after his 14 year long exile is remembered by the devout or parents trying to teach the children and show off their limited knowledge!

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In today’s world, it begins with a million forwarded messages on whatsapp which you interchange and forward to one another which by the end of the day have to be deleted so that the phone may work at its optimum! Phone calls are rare which is a blessing indeed!  

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In our house, we have one enthusiastic person on Diwali- my husband! A quiet man usually, he wakes up with great energy to which I reciprocate as best as I can. I used to be a huge Diwali crazy person- I love the lights, the “diyas” (clay lamps) even more and I don’t have a sweet tooth- I have sweet teeth!! I have also loved the Ramayana and stories from it as a child (though the Mahabharata is my favourite epic ever). However, this enthusiasm fluctuates from time to time and this year it was at its lowest. I have been going through a bad mad patch- the zombie phase remember!

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I was giving polite smiles which made my heart sink further. When you do what you really don’t want to, it is a sad state indeed. Sure enough, the flood gates opened by late afternoon. My husband, bless him, didn’t see it coming. It was a heartless thing to do and if I had the capacity to keep it in, I would have but I couldn’t pretend any longer! I was comforted as always but I needed to let off steam. “What festival? Why should I feel enthusiastic? Why should I have to meet people? Why should I wear a saree? Festivals are meant to add energy into your ordinary and mundane life. What if I am content with it already- in fact, I am. Why do I need this superficial energy? I have a headache and I don’t want to smile.” He heard everything quietly and he knew I was on edge. It’s scary when someone knows you better than you know yourself. “It’s okay if you don’t want to meet anybody and you don’t need to wear a saree. It is your choice entirely. Sometimes if you fake it, you make it so if you start off enthusiastically you just might genuinely feel it. You don’t worry about a thing. I’ll take care of everything.”That did it for me. I felt the pressure within ease. I work myself into a frenzy over events without realizing it. Everything becomes a compulsion in my head (something which I dislike immensely) and that takes the mirth out of it. The minute he said you don’t have to, it was like someone lifted a heavy burden off my shoulders.

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My spirits began to lift up by twilight and even my kids were happy because we were going to meet both their friends! However, bringing the family to these levels of happiness left my husband sapped which made me guilty. He, after all, was the Diwali aficionado! Thankfully, it wasn’t much of an effort to get him all happy again, the sport that he is! As the night fell, we were all elated having met our friends, watched the sky light up with fireworks (though polluting I love the smell of crackers) and seeing everything lit up and smiles on all faces. This was followed by dinner with my parents…a sumptuous meal in the comforts of your home with all your loved ones around is my idea of a perfect finale!!



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Festivals are happy times. The pressure of conducting it to perfection “by the books” should be a matter of choice. It is upon us to not let pressure mount on us by expectations or perceived expectations of others. Celebrate it your way, in tattered jeans if you have to. A happy person in frayed jeans and a casual tee is far more fun to be around than a saree/suit clad glum person! On that note, I sign off offering all my dear readers greetings for the remaining festivals of 2018- my calendar says we get holidays for Milad-Un-Nabi, Guru Nanak Jayanti and Christmas! May we have more Gods, more festivals and more holidays!!





Comments

  1. Happy Diya wishes!!! I too put up my hands for more holidays....cheers!!!

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  2. Sorry to hear that you started off Diwali in a not so festive mood! However, like they say.. All's well that ends well. Couldn't help but grin at the sweet teeth bit ;)
    I do feel festivals are a bit too over rated and I totally agree that eventually it is a day for you to do what makes you feel happy and that's My ideal Diwali!
    I finally read it ;)

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    Replies
    1. If you can actually do what makes you happy everyday, you don't even need a festival!! Am glad you managed to catch up...love to hear from you :)

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