Monday, July 23, 2012

Day 205/366

India has a lot of festivals. And I mean, A LOT! There's one for lights, one for brothers, one for when there's good rainfall, one for when there isn't; and then that one for the cows and then...

We love celebrations. And we really love food. That's the best part of these festivals according to me - puris, sabjis of ten types and so much mithai! It's pretty good being an Indian, to be honest. Especially if you're a foodie like me. Plus, there's all the rituals and fancy ethnic wear and rangoli and patakas to look forward to.

But personally, more than the fact that there are all these things attached to individual festivals, it's the fact that they're still celebrated and held with so much respect among the older generations that amazes me. It's a pity that the youth of today don't really care so much about them (I'm a part of this group). There are very few people who genuinely believe in the reasons why these festivals exist, know how they are to be celebrated keeping traditions in mind and understand what it means to carry them on with the same vigor and importance as our forefathers did.

I will probably never grasp how keeping a fast on one night of the year will help keep my future husband alive for longer or why people throw rice on a bride or why everyone puts mehendi during weddings. You see how silly it all sounds? But people have been doing it for ages. There must be some truth and sensible justification to it! Being what we call "old-fashioned" in our lingo must be a good thing for those few people for a valid reason. I wish I could know more about it. But somehow, the doors of my mind are closed to the reasoning. Can someone please help me open it again? 

1 comment:

  1. It doesn't sound silly, though, when you think about it. I grew up exactly where you did, minus the Rishi Valley and plus a little UWC.
    When the generation above me fasts, I don't think they actually believe that it's going to help anyone live longer. And that's one of the things I appreciate Hinduism for - that you can be as rational as you like and there isn't a book dictating exactly what you need to do and why you need to do it. They do it in order to create some sort of meaning. The very act or performance of the ritual is where the meaning and value reside - not in what the mythologies suggest they can accomplish. I'm not so sure the youth of today don't care but perhaps you mean just the city youth in which case that's true. But also, the very notions of what's meaningful and what's not have changed. We can spend hours quibbling about whether this change is good or bad but the point is that it's a different set of acts and rituals that we ascribe meaning to. And even when we consider the same acts meaningful - marriage, for example - the meanings that they hold have changed. The sets may overlap to whatever degree with the sets of rituals that we've observed our parents observe (no pun intended) but at the end of the day the meanings of these rituals, institutions and practices have changed - more for some people than for others. It probably didn't mean much to give someone flowers about fifty years ago though I could be wrong here. Graduating from college probably meant less. New Year's day certainly meant less.
    Every generation needs some structure/rituals to feel part of a community, a family or even just that there life has some meaning, that they've accomplished things or crossed milestones. Or even just to be able to have a shared idea of the significance of certain activities and rites of passage as well as the kinds of rituals and practices you describe. Old-fashioned is literally just that - old. That's what separates it from today - we're not fundamentally any different. We haven't given up on trying to assign arbitrary practices some sort of deeper meaning. Why do certain flowers mean love and others death?
    Does that make any sense?
    This is something I think about a lot and I've never found a more satisfactory explanation than this.
    I come across your blog every few days and I really enjoy it. Sorry it's taken me this long to tell you :)
    Heard about your job from my mum - congratulations! Hope all's well x