November 24, 2023

Pratisha Joshi

Having celebrated a series of festivals last month, I feel like I am still hung over from the multiple celebrations that I and my whole family enjoyed during that time. Unlimited laughter, superbly delicious food items, clinking glasses, meeting your loved ones after a long time – these festivities create beautiful stories & memories as such. Not only that, celebrating those festivities has a significant part of our culture, our traditions, that defines who we are.

It made me ponder, what lies within these festivities that make it so special? What is their actual essence that momentarily makes us forget everything for a while, and make us smile?. Not only that but these celebrations are not a new invention, they have been around for thousands of years. So, what makes these ancient celebrations still relevant and equally important even today?

It might be funny but the first thought that crossed my mind is a perfect escapism. Escapism, from your normal, mundane, daily routine! I mean who doesn’t love change for a while and when that change could be as appealing as festivals, who wouldn’t want to celebrate. After all, we could see people wearing their new shiny clothes, decorating their houses as if it was new, cooking unique delicacies; some reserved for that particular day each year. Festivals do make our ordinary days a bit special, our normal salty food a bit more spicy, and our relentlessly busy hearts a bit calmer.

But, but, if it were only about escapism, I don’t think our festivities would have stood the test of time. Despite the difference in the religion to which those festivals belong, all of them share captivating stories. Be it Ramayan, Bhagavad Gita, be it Quran or the Bible. Their powerful narratives depict a certain set of values and I believe these values are the real essence of the festivities we celebrate.

The extensions of them may vary but at their core lie Acceptance, Tolerance, and Togetherness; the base of those depicted values.

Festivals provide us with the time to spend with ourselves and the ones we truly love and care about. It’s a period for deeper introspection, allowing us to know ourselves better and find peace within. This self-acceptance energy helps us realize there are people different from us, with different lifestyles and preferences. Understanding this diversity fosters tolerance, as even within our families, not everyone likes the same sweet, right? This understanding is crucial, shaping us as we evolve to become better humans.

With a touch of tolerance, we learn how to come together, live together, and work towards a common purpose. In the end, we need each other – a place to share our joys and sorrows, we need one another  for mutual understanding, guidance, and support.

All in all, our celebrations could be much bigger and more meaningful if we realize the essence behind them, the essence of acceptance, tolerance, and togetherness!

Throughout the centuries, many aspects of our festivals have changed. Perhaps there weren’t clinking glasses in ancient times, and the mud oil lamps might have transformed into today’s modernized water sensor lights. However, one cannot deny that the essence of our beloved festivals remains the same.

Lastly, as we revel in the joy of our favorite festival, let’s collectively cherish their true values, and let’s strive to wholeheartedly amplify their essence. This is how we have become the humans we are today. Festivals have the transformative power to make us better, and they call for unity – the unity that empowers humanity, something that seems to be missing these days in the pursuit of others.