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Are we losing on traditional way of celebrating festivals?

When I was kid, there used to be hustle and bustle in my home before and after festivals. Days long preparations, new cloths, house cleaning and most favorite part of all this was shopping. And then greeting relatives, going to friend’s house for greetings get together was fun. Things have changed now. Our hectic lifestyle is majorly to be blamed; also, since most of the families are nuclear it becomes very difficult to follow all those rituals of celebration. However, I know of a few families who still get together and celebrate festivals the same old way. It’s really good because in doing so they are preserving our customs and traditions. Moreover, the smart phone addictions have distanced people from meeting and talking. Everyone is in some or the other kind of stress, one is running from other. In the Indian culture, there was a time when there used to be a Holi Gulal Hindu Festival every day of the year – 365 festivals in a year – because a festival is a tool to bring life to a state of exuberance and enthusiasm. That was the significance and importance of festivals. The whole culture was in a state of celebration. If today was plugging day, it was a kind of celebration. Tomorrow was planting day, another kind of celebration. Day after tomorrow was weeding, that was a celebration. Festivals bring happiness, cheer, hope, optimism, celebrations, lights, joy, cooperation and many more pleasant things in our life. During Diwali, Christmas, Holi, Eid, Gurupurb, Passover, or any other festival the world appears to be a heaven. It appears as if the entire world is attending a wedding celebration. Children, adults, teenagers, elders, and middle-aged people all of them look cheerful and vibrant. The ambience looks bright and poise.

Now the life is mostly restricted to urbanites, we are losing our culture. The cause behind it is the new moderately well to do middle class parents of youngsters. They fail to educate the kids about Indian culture but get thrilled when the kids dance to a Bollywood tune or a MJ song. These days these kids would not be able say which is Bharatanatyam and which is Odyssey or kathak. They would identify any western singer but not Pt. Jasraj or any other Indian classical musician. They would have seen ‘2012’ or ‘Star Trek’ but not ‘Shakuntala’ or ‘Ramayana’, their parents who are in the age group of 30 to 50 years as of now. These people had no time to teach the young about anything Indian. Further if you take a look at the schools today you may notice that all their school day functions vibrate with even five-year olds dancing to ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’. I remember of having acted as Krishna or Rama in school functions and girls performing Bharatanatyam or singing classical.

With a much more demanding work life than earlier and with the amalgamation of cultures happening globally, we are losing our cultural identity. I wouldn’t know if it’s a good thing or not. All I know is we are no longer following age old practices which reflect our true culture. One reason which comes to mind is, maybe we have a more demanding working lifestyle than ever. There’s too much at hand to be doing things the traditional way. I’d like to believe that this is not the case. Many will disagree, I’m sure. Secondly, we, in today’s world have enough distractions to be able to reflect on our past way of life. I’m sure many of us have childhood memories when grandpa used to do the traditional “pooja”(prayers) which seemed to go on for eternity. I also remember my grandparents were very particular about how things were done. There was no reasoning with them as to why they were done the way they were.

Finally, time is of utmost importance according to today’s generation. We do celebrate festivals, but more often than not, it’s more of a family get-together rather than following tradition itself. All of our festivals, have become more of coming together for a day or two, and then going back to your separate individual existence. We aren’t patient enough to go through all procedure for lack of time and more than that, a lack of interest. The rich and vibrant festivals of India are a testimony to our diverse tradition and culture. Festivals in India revolve around Lord’s birthdays, traditional myths, seasonal changes, relationships, and much more. Festivals are celebrated irrespective of religion or caste in the country, bringing people closer and creating a strong bond of humanity. Right from childhood, infants in India are part of every festival celebration in the house. This helps them understand the rituals of each festival and they develop a liking for the festivals and celebrations. As they grow older, they get fonder of these festivals and they want to celebrate it in its full potential to enjoy it thoroughly. You will notice a lot of youngsters participating in festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Diwali, Durga Puja and Christmas. These festivals bring them closer to each other as well as the country, and instil a feeling of patriotism as well. For students, it is a great way to understand the rich heritage of India and learn about the importance of various festivals. These festivals also help students from across the world to know about India and its history. This creates a good reputation of our country in the world and we get an opportunity to spread our country’s rich heritage. Many schools organize cultural exchange for students that foster intercultural learning experiences. Cultural exchange programs promote mutual understanding between nations and students get an opportunity to learn the culture of other countries.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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