Before you start reading, there’s one thing I want to say. In this post, I’m presenting my personal view regarding things which I’ve observed myself. There’s no reason that you should have the same observation or same beliefs as I do. So, when you read, read with open mind. My motive here is not to oppose any cultural or religious belief(s); but through this article, I just want to highlight a few things that most of the people fail to observe due to certain reasons.
Diwali – the festival of lights, celebrated with joy and devotion in every part of the country. Although every festival that we celebrate is an expression of joy and happiness, but this festival is special because it brings people close to one another. Diwali is more than a celebration; it’s a social interaction that leaves no one unknown, that leaves no one to be called a ‘stranger’. In this festival, we exchange sweets, we light up candles, fire crackers, and express our joy in every way we can. This is what Diwali was meant to be, and this is what today it is NOT! I’m not here to tell you the story behind the celebration of this wonderful festival; but there are few things that I would like to share and these are the things ‘worth noticing’.
According to Indian mythology, Diwali was celebrated for the first time by the people of Ayodhya when Lord Ram had returned from his long exile of 14 years, back to Ayodhya. And today, it is celebrated, in the name of Lord Ram for the same reason. But who needs reasons to celebrate! You need to express your happiness; you celebrate, even without reason sometimes. And that’s perfectly alright! But it seems that our festivals, which are the ‘external’ projections of our cultural and religious beliefs, are slowly losing their identity. The festival of lights now seems to be the festival of sounds. With growing modernization, we are improving at a much higher rate, but it seems that our ‘true identity’ is at stake.
Let me present before you the regular scenario of the Diwali of 21st century:
- Get up early in the morning
- Start preparing the list of items to be purchased
- Go to the market (that is already crowded like never before)
- Buy sweets, gifts, surprize packages, for people you never want to talk to, you never want to see, about whom you never cared, and the ones about whom you talk behind their backs.
- Visit each one of them individually, greet them with fake smiles, don’t stop for more than 2 minutes at one place (even if he is your best friend)
- Come back home, tired; cursing the ones whom you greeted because you think they wasted your ‘precious’ time.
- Start your home decorations and Durga Pooja arrangements.
- Get something special to eat
- And the fun part – become the master of sound disturbance in your town by firing out loud as many crackers as you can.
- And then keep going until you’re out of stock
- And finally have a nice sleep
The only change that has occurred is the “intention” of people. Earlier, celebrations were meant to bring people closer to one another, to have a social gathering, to be united and celebrate as one. But today, even Festivals are Formalities! I’m no one to comment on the way people celebrate their festivals, but it doesn’t bring me joy to see people celebrating with negative intentions. Just because they ‘have to’ celebrate, brings no joy. Happiness comes from within, without reasons. And not only this, I’ve come forward with reasons for change of intentions.
Today, people don’t have time; not enough time to know reasons for what they are doing! Same stands valid for festivals. Diwali is the festival of lights, but if you see today, you’ll find it to be the festival of sounds, rather than the festival of lights. Today, the joy of Diwali lies in the fact that how louder you can fire the crackers and for how long. The true meaning of festival, gone; the true essence of joy, gone; the true intention of celebration, gone; and the true way of expression, gone!!! The wave of duality and formalities has masked every aspect of our lives, even festivals.
In my observation, hearing the sounds of crackers is a nuisance. It’s a nuisance not because it irritates, but simply because now I know the intentions of the people and trust me, they are not good, not natural. Firing crackers creates noise and air pollution, everyone knows that. But when people celebrate Diwali with the intention of ‘showing off’, it really irritates! This is my observation about things that happen, about things that changed, and about things that must change according to me. What’s your observation will always be yours.
I would like to end this article with a quote that I made myself on this auspicious occasion. These are the words that the festival of Diwali is saying for itself (personifying the festival of Diwali):
“I speak the language of colours with the words of light; I hear the voices of joy with the sounds of delight; I came from ONE, I’ll go into ONE; and throughout my journey, I’ll learn to be right.”
©Varun K. Sharma
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