Improved Festivals

I have nothing against festivals and especially this one. I quite enjoy the music, sweets and a feeling of ‘nice’ that envelops one during this period.
But there is a fundamental difference in how these festivals are celebrated across India. In Pune, for example, I remember Ganeshotsav being the biggest followed by Diwali and then Christmas. This, of course, is in terms of public participation. There were other festivals also like the more local (or Maharashtrian) Gudi Padva and so on, but these were overall the biggest. And they still are.
In Mumbai (which is now home), every festival is just as big. I mean, when the 10 pm deadline was imposed (yes, it was ‘imposed’), on Ganeshotsav and Navratri, the hue and cry was just as big for both in Mumbai but in Pune, nobody (apart from those under 21 years of age) seemed to mind it for Navratri.

But has this meant that the festivals suffered? In a way, I feel the quality of festivities improved and the unnecessary show off that used to happen has reduced. Mind you, not much, though.

Eventually, this has been extended to midnight in Gujarat and Maharashtra and there is now a different kind of question being asked as to why a ‘Gujarati’ festival gets this leniance while a ‘Maharashtrian’ one does not. And that too, in Maharashtra. Interesting and to some extent, a valid question. But that is not for this article neither is it in keeping with the fabric of India (or Mumbai, anyways).
I have enjoyed all these festivals just as much but I have to admit the ever extending deadlines were getting out of hand and ever since this 10 pm thing happened, life during festivals has been much better. For one, without the music, (which also means no Ganesh pandals to really visit), there’s not much to roam around for. And this also meant that the overall rate of unwanted elements (let’s face it, there always are many) on the streets during this period went down.
But has this meant that the festivals suffered? In a way, I feel the quality of festivities improved and the unnecessary show off that used to happen has reduced. Mind you, not much, though.
I remember a time when Diwali started before sunrise with a nice early (too early) bath and a generally ‘clean’ and festive amosphere. All that has changed and it’s now shifted to becoming a race of who buys the most crackers and how we can all collectively push the limits of pollution. Sad.
Even Ganeshotsav, for that matter has become all about noise and show off where every ‘Ganesh Mandal’ wants to show how much bigger they are. Seriously, whatever made them think that Lord Ganesh would be interested in ‘Slim Shady’ or ’18 ‘Til I Die’ is anybody’s guess. I suppose, though, that this is their way of enjoyment and that’s what festivals are all about anyways. Or are they?
Partly, yes but more than just enjoyment, festivals are also about ones belief and if you sincerely believe in what you are celebrating, the only way to really do it right is by keeping with the spirit of the festival.
Why has Ganesh Visarjan day become one that is dreaded by most in every city? Why is that after this day is over, we are left cleaning the mess caused for weeks? Why can’t people just immerse idols (made of clay and not POP) in their backyards or at home in a bucket of water? How is it better to cause a traffic nightmare, pollute rivers and seas and bid farewell to the idol that you worshipped for a day, five or ten in the worst polluted water body around?
I know of a lot of people and communities (in Pune, including my family) who do the immersion in a bucket, keep it for a day so it dissolves and then water the plants at home with that. At least we feel that we have kept the ‘God’ closer to us for a year. It’s just belief but then that’s what festivals are all about. (Did I say that already?)
The festival of lights and nine nights of celebrations also have a deep mythological and historical significance and so long as this is not lost, I think there is no need to really frown at the way we are celebrating. Unfortunately, we are not keeping with the spirit. Can we try at least? It would be worth experiencing one festival sans all the noise and pollution, if possible.
Now that would be the experience of a lifetime!

Technorati : Dandiya, Festivals, India, Mumbai, Raas Garba


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