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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Festival gaieties enthuse people no more

Our many festivals may have remained much the same but it is the absence of people to celebrate them that poses a disturbing trend

09th November 2018, 03:53 Hrs

We are at that time of the year when schools and colleges in the state are closed for the Diwali vacations. But what is the significance of festivals for the modern generation!  

It has been a general tendency of late to conveniently forget the delights of a festival and refer to it as a calendar event that may - or may not – warrant a public holiday! Working even during such pleasurable days perhaps gives a false sense of pride to those people who can’t stop telling the world how busy they are. 

The apathy of the people in general towards the revelries associated with various festivals portends a disturbing trend. The rat race that today has shorn all such gala occasions of its traditional fervor and has made every individual irrespective of his religion insensitive to these social and community activities.

It is not that the general public is averse to the thought of enjoyment. Who wouldn’t want to partake in the fun and frolic that generally signifies the onset of the festive season?

Relegating all thoughts of enjoyment to fervently pursue the rigors of a work culture that demands commitments to reach the pinnacle of success, the modern day man is no different from a mechanized creation which is oblivious to the joys and sorrows that makes life such a unique experience.

But all said and done, the joyous mood associated with the festivals of yesteryears is sadly missing nowadays!

For example, the sweetmeat and other delicacies one would associate with these festivals! The ladies of the house coming together and getting down to the business of preparing mithais, namkeens and other savouries days in advance have today become glorified scenes from some TV soap-opera. Sweets and snacks manufacturers like Haldiram’s have made life that much easier for the housewives!

With colourful lights illuminating each and every dwelling during Diwali, the whole street would wear a festive look. Amidst the bursting of crackers, quick forays by young women carrying sweets-laden plates into each others houses in the locality conveyed the geniality that made these festivals an occasion to look forward to.

Festivals, over the years, remain much the same. But it is the absence of people to celebrate them that poses a disturbing trend.

With community celebrations replacing traditional revelries associated with various festivals compelling the gaieties to move over from the household confines to the more elaborate public stages, private merriments have metamorphosed into grand public events.

The pompous celebrations that mark Ganesh Chaturthi for instance!  

However, the ostentatiousness that describes the celebrations at these public places is evidently steeped in commercialism. The huge amounts spend on the decoration and other aspects of the revelries have taken the sheen out of the festivals.

The Narkasur extravaganza in Goa! What started off as a symbolic representation of the victory of good over evil is today an overwhelming manifestation of political rivalries.

However, where the grotesque representations of the demon king Narkasur in the days of yore enthused mirth and laughter, the giant effigies crawling their way through the streets to congregate at the competition venue instill, along with awe, a certain amount of trepidation at the possibilities of a disaster waiting to happen.

The Amritsar train tragedy during Dusshera celebrations this year should be an eye-opener!

The grandeur of the night alit with the spectacle of the mechanized contraptions performing to the cacophonic sounds of drums and cymbals before the mesmerized audience does not in any way compensate for the haze of smoke and the acrid smell after the fireworks display that envelops the air the next day.

The Shigmo float parade held at major cities in the state is another example of the crazy fascination for demonic figures winding through the roads that draws huge crowds!

Serving more as tourism promos, these colourful pageants have become exhibitions of crass commercialization of the festival gaieties.

Pollution, as an inevitable side-effect of the festivities, has compelled the apex court to come down heavily against such practices recommending a ‘balanced approach’ that will ensure protection of public health as well as the economic interests of the stakeholders.

Permitting the manufacture and sale of only ‘green’ and reduced-emission or ‘improved’ crackers and banning those that are loud and toxic to man, animal and the environment during religious festivals and other occasions, including weddings, is an appropriate step in this regard.

The Supreme Court judgment reducing the time for bursting crackers to two hours should not encourage any further debate on the matter.

With awareness regarding the environmental hazards of Plaster of Paris idols rising by the day, eco-friendly idols have started attracting people. However, urging the public to do away with the menace of Plaster of Paris idols during every Ganesh Chaturthi continues to be a futile exercise.

Likewise, recommending natural home-made colours for Holi appears to be falling on deaf ears. The festival of colours, the way it is played in most parts of the country even today, is an invitation for the disappearance of colour and light from one’s life. People don’t seem to realize that the chemicals that form an essential ‘ingredient’ in the colours used could have harmful effects on the human body.

Refreshing moods create ebullient revelries. Favorable climates that have enabled humanity in general to thrive in prosperity have always found favorable outlets in the form of joyous celebrations. 

However the festivals need to be celebrated in their true spirit!

Man has always been in awe of the vagaries of nature. The waxing and waning of the moon, the ebbing of the tides and the cyclic change of weathers; all these that herald various seasons have always evoked mixed feelings in him.

It is uncertainties on the face of unexpected and inexplicable changes in the weather that has worried human beings the most. 

From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine, mankind has had to bear the brunt of the natural fury so very often that a deliverance from these tough times became a period of joy and fulfillment for humanity.

This is the gist of all festivals!

Yet we seem to have developed a penchant for inviting the wrath of nature unflinchingly over the ages! 

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