Questions I often hear are — Why do Hindus have so many festivals? How come the Hindu religion is always celebrating something or the other? Like right now, we are celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi. We had Janmashtami a few weeks ago. Navaratri and Deepavali is coming up.
The ultimate goal in Hinduism is moksha, liberation from finitude and sorrow — to discover oneself as Ananda. If the ultimate goal is Ananda, the lifestyle that is conducive to it cannot be one of suffering. Therefore, our religion is about discovering our connectedness with Ishvara, God, who is nothing but Ananda svarupa — the source of all joy and fulfilment.
There is always a celebratory aspect to Hinduism. There are aspects of piousness, worship, contemplation and tapas, austerities for growth, as well. Through all of these practices, there is an aspect of celebrating your connectedness to Ishvara. There is a celebration of the ultimate goal of Ananda, here and now, not a promised here-after, which you have to believe in.
In the various festival, in the forefront, what is seen by people is the celebratory aspect. Before the celebration, most people do a puja at home, which is a contemplative process. This is not seen by people. Some others chant malas of mantras and engage in fasts and other disciplines. These are not seen in public as these practices are your quiet and personal way of connecting with Ishvara.
What is seen are the celebratory aspects, which is a good thing. Our Hindu religion is not life-denying but life-affirming and life-encompassing, celebrating the fullness of life. Ishvara is not divorced from life and worldly activities, but he is in and through everything. Ananda, joy, and fullness are in and through everything, and the ultimate goal is to be discovered. Let us have our quiet moments of contemplation, and let us have our moments of celebration as well.
(The writer is the founder of Aarsha Vidya Foundation. You can write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)