Diwali is a celebration of homecoming, coming to oneself
These days, due to paucity of time and isolated existences we guiltily console and feed our spirits upon the festival stereotypes instead. As a result of this, Diwali, a festival of light, is left with very little sparkle
Seema Kaintura 22 Oct 2019 9:13 AM GMT
What are festivals but vivid expressions of joy which emanates from within and finds resonance in all that surrounds us? All festivals, therefore, serve the common purpose — a celebration of life.
From the early days of settlement when humans began growing food, some sorts of festivities have been of the order to celebrate the harvests which provide sustenance or life in general. As civilizations developed so did the distinct and systematic celebrations and traditions to mark the harvests. As an agrarian society, India too has numerous festivals celebrating the harvest and a rich tradition of folklore associated with each.
While growing up, I had developed a distinct and complete sensory image for each festival including smell, colours, sounds, puja, food and mode of celebration associated with it. I could perceptibly sense the coming festival in the air. Of course, Diwali was the most resplendent of them all. But then Diwali was not a single day celebration.
I remember my household set in the Diwali mode beginning Dussehra and going right till Baikunth Ekadashi better known as Akash Diwali or Tulsi Vivah. All festivals were joyous community events -- spilling over days bringing communities together, celebrating as one big family.
These days, however, due to paucity of time and isolated existences we guiltily console and feed our spirits upon the festival stereotypes instead. So, while Holi is taken as the festival of colour, and is celebrated with skin-friendly colours that wash away discreetly by the afternoon, Diwali as the festival of light is itself left with a very little sparkle.
The celebration of the festival as stereotypes is deeply problematic. First of all, is the philosophical dilemma that the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. So, when we view Diwali as a festival of light than we are positioning ourselves against it if we seek to address the ethical or environment issue. When we say, this Diwali don't burst crackers, don't light up candles and don't consume sweets, we find that there is hardly any joy left. On the other hand, is Diwali just about lighting up or is it about lighting up of the soul?
For the millennials who shoulder the blame for every singular modern woe, Diwali has been homogenized to such an extent with the global idea of festivities that it has little more to offer than app-centric shopping fests. In fact, the festival frenzy has been taken over by the shopping frenzy. If we buy jewellery, cars and clothes during Diwali, we are believed to be celebrating. But then so is the case with every modern festival. Where does one find the essence, uniquely of Diwali?
One must not forget the social aspect of the festivals -- after all, they are the social artifices or inventions to serve the purpose of the community of people and in this regard cannot thrive in modern lifestyles' alienation and isolation. How much merrymaking can a household of three, two or single person undertake? One certainly needs another, a family needs another, a community needs another to share the joy and double up on happiness.
The good thing is that we have the power to choose like never before. We look within and with this perspective look around, feel and assess how we can use the festivity to spread joy. We retreat to the days of yore to learn so that we may move ahead with newer ideas and experiences.
Despite living in a world getting fast intolerant of dissensions we can today afford much more to be ourselves. We have access to all the traditions and practices of communities across the globe. So, as the people of post-truth era, we stand emancipated from all absolutist notions, flexible and flowing. We can excavate our rich traditions to uncover practices that are relevant or conducive at least, to our times. We can begin traditions of our own that enhance our goodness and happiness, necessarily in that order.
We do need to take care of our health, but then festivities should be seen as a release from the daily drill, they should involve activities that bring joy. Do share food with friends, families and those around you, recipes that have been handed through generations specifically for the festivals. Plan ahead, declutter homes and inner self, it brings calmness. Buy judiciously, live sustainably, share ideas and readily pass on the things you love but do not need. Be involved, involve your family or better still your community to beautify the place you live in. Provide personalized touches -- gifting, decorating or hosting. But above all, be a giver, it creates a shift from self-centric lonesomeness to the joyous consciousness of seeing someone else happy. This is Diwali, a celebration of homecoming, coming to oneself.