7 ways of making festivals meaningful
It’s that time of the year when one festival is followed by another leading to more. Time to dress traditional and enjoy being with family and friends. Time to relish delectable traditional food and most importantly time to stop counting the calories each time we take that sumptuous bite. It’s time to let the hair down,literally too, and be mirthful as time and weather are both conducive to merriment.
India’s socio-cultural fabric is all about joyous merry-making during the multitudinous festivals that mark the calendar year. Come August and a series of festivals keep us together as a well-knit community. In fact it is believed that there was a time when this festive fervour was a part of each day as Indians celebrated a fantastic 365 festivals in a year- a festival each day! What a lovely way to stay happy-every day, the entire week, month, year and life time. One would sing, dance and sail through life arriving at the end of the journey with a sense of fulfilment. What a way of living! Life itself a grand celebration.
Should all that remain just there; in the PAST? Is all that distant now? Not so, as we can make most of what we have, adopting once again some ways of regurgitating the days and spirit of those times. How?
- Wake up early. More often than not we sleep halfway into the festival, leaving little room for the family to bring in the festival together. Rising with the sun will give each member of the family time to explore the ideas that lie latent and need to see the light of the day! I clearly remember when mum would rise early to gently wake us and show us a golden metallic fish for luck to be with us through the year. Protesting,yet submissive the brother-sisters trio enjoyed this yearly early morning ritual and secretly looked ahead to it!
- Traditional is the way. Resorting to the cultural ways of yore would bring in greater zeal and enthusiasm. A certain sense of sanctity marked festivals once. We could revive that by adopting the conventional ways of celebrating. I distinctly remember how as children we would plead one of the neighbour’s to drive out his car, vacating the garage for us. We would then get together, carrying pails and brooms to proudly flaunt a well-scrubbed, sparkling clean garage (removing the grease marks). We would then pool in all the trinkets and decorations and go on to make a well-decorated ‘jhanki’ on Janamashtami with scenes from the childhood of Lord Krishna. Mothers would make their contributions by preparing prasad which was offered at the stroke of midnight. A whole cucumber would be cut to mark the birth of Lord Krishna.
- Together is fun. Joining forces with others to celebrate Diwali or Holi adds to the festive spirit. As children who lived in a housing colony of over a dozen houses, we pooled together fire- crackers and colours respectively, to have a treasure of them in both variety and number. It gave us the innocent joy of abundance and taught us to share and feel happy celebrating togetherness. A reason for staying bonded and tolerant for many years after. Oh the simple pleasures of sharing and on the quiet a sense of equality
- Make at home. Traditional fares! Keep the taste buds tingled and calories in check. Of course it brings the family together in times when each member is busy to find time to mingle. Painting diyas, making simple lanterns and rangolis, traditional sweetmeats like karanji ( gujiya), besan laddoo, pithe, ariselu and so on brings together the family which in routine struggles to spend time together. A roll back-abuzz with excitement, we would potter around the house feeling important, helping mother in either rolling out dough into small shapes or filling the pockets with the sweet mawa which were then fried to give birth to succulent, crisp gujiyas.
- ‘Vesh Bhusha’ is the key. The little boy in the advert insisted for apparels and so could we. Nothing better for a soaring feel good factor than a gorgeous-handsome appearance. Undoubtedly the ethnic wear enhances the fervour and the festive look. The interior too bubbles with exuberance at this better exterior. In out times when special outfits were bought only for special occasions i.e. only 3-4 times a year, traditional was the way. And did we look forward with expectations to this!
- Praying together unites. Prayers establish ties with those on earth and beyond. It strings each person making them discover a vigour that helps them through the crests and troughs. Praying together during celebrations adds to the commitment.It’s etched in my memory, forever: my father would chant shlokas to invoke the Gods. We would sing along with or after him and the chants would reverberate through the home, adding to its air of piety.
- Every festival comes as a holiday. Holiday time- perhaps not. It could be the time to re-kindle passion and latent talents, to ignite the creative intent, to awaken the dying bonds. Friends, neighbours, relatives close and distant would all meet nurturing a sense of bonhomie and joi de vivre.
Festivals – Time to drive out darkness of unawareness & odium and scatter the clarity of light.