Festivals in India revolve around Gods and their 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. But in the modern ear, everything is shortened to formality.
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 people from across the world to know about India and its history. This creates a good reputation for our country in the world and we get an opportunity to spread our country’s rich heritage. Many schools organize a 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.
In contemporary society, religious festivals are becoming worthless with most people only wanting to enjoy themselves. But some people are still celebrating their religious festivals with full enthusiasm and enjoyment. There are rare families that are really celebrating each festival. In the modern era, God’s idol to traditions is shrunk to size. All traditional festivals teach and celebrate the good values of life such as morality and ethics.
For example, people used to celebrate Diwali in a grand manner by wearing new clothes, giving and receiving presents, bursting crackers, and preparing traditional foods which give them more enjoyment. In addition, by decorating their homes with earthen lamps they are also sending out the message that we should dispel darkness from the world and our lives. But in the modern era, people are using China-made wax lamps and some crackers for formality. Health-conscious people avoid eating and making those traditional dishes.
When I was a kid, there used to be hustle and bustle in my home before and after festivals. Days-long preparations, new clothes, house cleaning, and the most favourite part of all this was shopping. And then greeting relatives, going to a friend’s house for greetings, and getting together was fun. Things have changed now. Our hectic lifestyle is major 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, smartphone addictions have distanced people from meeting and talking. Everyone is in some or the other kind of stress, one is running from the 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 the wedding, 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 heaven. It appears as if the entire world is attending a wedding celebration. Children, adults, teenagers, elders, and middle-aged people all look cheerful and vibrant. The ambience looks bright and poise.
Now 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 an MJ song. These days these kids would not be able to 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 Startrek 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 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 that 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) that 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 procedures 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 traditions and culture.
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