FES­TI­VAL MUS­INGS

The mod­ern sparkle in age-old cel­e­bra­tions.

Woman's Era - - News - Ro­mola Shanbhag

As the au­tumn air gives way to the balmy ad­vent of win­ter, it seems as if Na­ture is ex­tremely ea­ger to cel­e­brate the fes­ti­val sea­son with us. There is a pleas­ant nip in the air, fresh green adorns trees and the per­fume of flow­ers spreads like a dream all around .

In homes too, the am­bi­ence is at once cel­e­bra­tory and joy­ous. De­li­cious mouth­wa­ter­ing fra­grance of ghee, car­damom and roast­ing be­san float through the home. Chil­dren prance around in new clothes with fire crack­ers clutched in ex­cited fists, the women of the house bus­tle around in rustling silks, jas­mine strung in their hair…tiny clay lamps cre­ate glit­ter­ing rows of twin­kling lights on gar­den walls

Well, this was the sce­nario of the fes­tive sea­son some years ago…but now a sea change has taken place. There is bling and os­ten­ta­tion every­where, money is poured into fes­tiv­i­ties more than care and love; the gen­tle in­ti­macy of this spe­cial time has been taken over by com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion….

Is all this bad and un­wanted? Of course not. Mov­ing with the times and the de­mands and choices of to­day’s gen­er­a­tion is very es­sen­tial for all of us, how­ever much we think nos­tal­gi­cally of by­gone days.

“You know what?”re­marked my friend med­i­ta­tively as we pushed our way through the shop­ping crowd of a mall. “The fa­mous say­ing…there is noth­ing more con­stant in life than change….is par­tic­u­larly ap­pro­pri­ate for fes­ti­val cel­e­bra­tions in our coun­try.” “What do you mean?”i asked. She threw her hand to­ward the glit­ter­ing show win­dow of a gar­ment out­let, filled com­pletely with glit­ter­ing, fash­ion dresses and men­wear.

“Re­mem­ber the days when our new Di­wali clothes were flow­ered cotton frocks and khaki shorts? Now, new clothes mean all this!

YUMMY SMELLS

AS WE NEARED OUR DES­TI­NA­TION, WE WERE TAKEN ABACK TO SEE IN THE DIS­TANCE, FIRE­WORKS RIS­ING TO SPANGLE THE NIGHT SKIES WITH A THOU­SAND STARS AND STREAMS OF LIGHT. AS WE DROVE CLOSER WE HEARD THE CRASH AND BOOMS OF FIRE­CRACK­ERS AS WELL…

“Sweets were lad­doos and

shakkar paras made in the fam­ily kitchen which would be waft­ing out yummy smells for over a week...th­ese would be dis­trib­uted to a few neigh­bours and served to vis­i­tors...but now, huge boxes of sweets bought whole­sale from hal­wais are loaded into cars and de­liv­ered to scores of peo­ple…. by drivers… “And lights were…” “What you mean to say is that sim­ple cel­e­bra­tions have been taken over by os­ten­ta­tion…,” I in­ter­rupted her.

“Yes,” she laughed. “Don’t you miss the good old days?”

“I do,” I agreed, “but I like the new-gen fes­tiv­i­ties too…you have to ad­mit,it is all so much grander and so much fun too…the dig­i­tal age has changed ev­ery­thing, you know…so, let’s stop be­ing stuck in the past fuddy dud­dies.” “Ok…let’s see how much that fab anarkali costs…i sim­ply love it.” And link­ing her arm in mine, she led me into the shop…

I re­mem­bered our lit­tle ex­change a week later as my hus­band and I drove over to a good friend’s Di­wali get­to­gether at a farm­house.

As we neared our des­ti­na­tion, we were taken aback to see in the dis­tance, fire­works ris­ing to spangle the night skies with a thou­sand stars and streams of light. As we drove closer we heard the crash and booms of fire­crack­ers as well…

My hus­band and I ex­changed sur­prised glances.

“What’s hap­pened?” he asked won­der­ingly. “Prakash is a vo­cif­er­ous sup­porter of a non­pol­lut­ing Di­wali cel­e­bra­tions….but here…?”

I shrugged. “He does not seem to be­lieve in prac­tis­ing what he preaches,” I re­marked a bit caus­ti­cally. Min­utes later, our host wel­comed us warmly and led us into his gar­den which looked like a fairy­land; in the back­ground, his house shone with multi-coloured elec­tric bulbs; peo­ple milled around tables groan­ing un­der the weight of plates loaded with del­i­ca­cies .

From the back gar­den, came the ca­coph­ony of fire­crack­ers as th­ese shot up­wards through the leaves of huge trees.

“Why are you light­ing crack­ers, yaar?” asked my hus­band ac­cus­ingly. “Have you even for­got­ten the se­vere bron­chi­tis at­tack your lit­tle daugh­ter suf­fered last year at this fes­ti­val time.”

“Come with me, and stop at­tack­ing me be­fore check­ing out the facts,” chuck­led our host, pulling my hus­band’s arm and lead­ing him to the back of the house. I fol­lowed,quite con­sumed by cu­rios­ity.

In­deed, what we saw took our breath away….

STARS, WHIRLS AND BURSTS

Huge boom­boxes po­si­tioned around the grounds emit­ted loud bangs and crashes, sim­u­lat­ing fire­work sounds. And in the cen­tre were strate­gi­cally placed ap­pa­ra­tus which re­leased strobe dig­i­tal lights up­ward into the dark moon­less night. Stars, whirls and bursts of coloured lights….so per­fectly repli­cated a fire­works display that we could just stare in won­der and ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

“Sat­is­fied? That I am not mess­ing up the pol­lu­tion lev­els of our city?” laughed Prakash as small kids ran around us in ex­cited play.

“But..but….” stut­tered my hus­band look­ing around in amaze­ment. “How…what?” “We are liv­ing in the 21st cen­tury, yaar… so let’s take ad­van­tage of the bless­ings of tech­nol­ogy….” quipped Prakash.

Have to­day’s fes­ti­val cel­e­bra­tions lost the hu­man touch? Are peo­ple more in­ter­ested in im­press­ing oth­ers with the grandeur of their gifts and cel­e­bra­tions than spar­ing a thought for the rea­sons be­hind all the joy­ous ac­tiv­i­ties.

A cousin re­cently told me about a fam­ily she knows which cel­e­brated Di­wali in a very spe­cial way.

“Light­ing a home for them means light­ing the home of some un­der­priv­i­leged per­son too,” she said. “So this fes­ti­val sea­son, they got an elec­tri­cal con­nec­tion to the home of their maid, who had not been able to get it as she had no money for the ex­penses in­volved in this…

“And they dis­trib­uted sweets in two or­phan­ages in the city, in­stead of in homes of their rich friends. There were toys too for the lit­tle re­cip­i­ents. In all this, their two young chil­dren were hap­pily in­volved, im­bib­ing great un­for­get­table lessons on shar­ing and giv­ing.”

What a won­der­ful and mean­ing­ful way to cel­e­brate Di­wali and New Year, I thought to my­self.

In all the fes­ti­val fer­vour, surely a few dis­si­dent voices are of­ten raised high and loud in protest. A neigh­bour of ours, a crusty old bach­e­lor al­ways goes bal­lis­tic when we be­gin prepa­ra­tions for Dasshera and Di­wali.

“Waste of money,”he shouts over the gar­den wall,wav­ing an an­gry fist in the air. “Waste of time and en­ergy…which is bet­ter spent on more vi­tal things.”

And when we protest, he goes on. “How can you revel and re­joice when there is such a lot of poverty all around us? It is crim­i­nal…all th­ese fes­tiv­i­ties.”

He has a point, of course, but what would life be with­out th­ese lit­tle in­ter­ludes of happy cel­e­bra­tions? We need this to feel re­ju­ve­nated, to con­nect with the peo­ple we love and to let our hair down in this stress-filled world? As one wo­man put it suc­cinctly, “Fes­tiv­i­ties add spice to our daily sim­ple daal of life!” Wise words, in­deed.

HAVE TO­DAY’S FES­TI­VAL CEL­E­BRA­TIONS LOST THE HU­MAN TOUCH? ARE PEO­PLE MORE IN­TER­ESTED IN IM­PRESS­ING OTH­ERS WITH THE GRANDEUR OF THEIR GIFTS AND CEL­E­BRA­TIONS THAN SPAR­ING A THOUGHT FOR THE REA­SONS BE­HIND ALL THE JOY­OUS AC­TIV­I­TIES.

Com­mon sense is the mea­sure of the pos­si­ble; it is com­posed of ex­pe­ri­ence and pre­vi­sion; it is cal­cu­la­tion ap­plied to life.

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