In the Indian culture, there was a time when there used to be a festival every day of the year — 365 festivals in a year — because a festival is a tool to bring life to a state of exuberance and enthusiasm. That was the significance and importance of festivals. The whole culture was in a state of celebration. If today was ploughing day, it was a kind of celebration.
Tomorrow was planting day, another kind of celebration. Day after tomorrow was weeding, that was a celebration. Harvesting, of course, is still a celebration. In India, depending upon what food grains you grew — I am not talking about cash crops — you worked hard for 50 to 100 days in a year, and the rest of the year, you had time for a series of festivals. Every village had its own festivals to which people from the surrounding villages came. Every wedding was at least five days of celebration.
But in the last 400 or 500 years, poverty has come to our country, and we have not been able to celebrate every day. People are satisfied if they just get some simple food to eat. So all the festivals fell away and only 30 or 40 festivals remain. We are not even able to celebrate those now because we have to go to the office or do something else daily because now you have a 30-year mortgage. So people usually celebrate only around eight or 10 festivals annually.
Nowadays, unfortunately, a festival means a holiday and you wake up only at noon. Then you eat food and go for a movie or watch television at home. It wasn’t like that earlier. A festival meant the whole town would gather at a place and there would be a big celebration. A festival meant we got up at four in the morning, and very actively, lots of things happened all over the house.
Another aspect is that you constantly have to do things like a machine, not out of passion. The whole society expects you to be a machine. You are not waking up in the morning because you want to make a difference in something today or because what you do is meaningful or because you want to do it — it is all about making a living. Society makes you believe that if you do not go to school, if you do not go to work, something bad will happen. And you cannot suddenly change the course of your life and do something else. Everyone is trying to compel you to do the same things all through your life. Making a living takes very little. It only becomes a problem when you want to live like someone else. Today, the whole economic model on the planet is just about that. If you just want to live, it is very simple — every human being is capable of this.
The importance of festivals
If we do not bring back the culture of celebration in people, by the time the next generation comes, they will not know what a festival is. They will just eat, sleep and grow up without concern for another human being. All these aspects were brought into Indian culture just to keep a person active and enthusiastic in so many ways. The idea behind this was to make our whole life into a celebration.
If you approach everything in a celebratory way, you learn to be non-serious about life but absolutely involved. The problem with most human beings right now is, if they think something is important, they will become serious about it.
If they think it is not so important, they will become lax about it — they don’t show the necessary involvement. You know, in India when someone says, “He is in a very serious condition,” that means his next step is you know where. A lot of people are in a serious condition. There is only one thing that is going to happen to them which is of any significance. The rest will bypass them because with anything that they think is not serious, they are unable to show involvement and dedication towards that. That is the whole problem.
The secret of life is to see everything with a non-serious eye, but be absolutely involved — like a game. That is the reason the most profound aspects of life are approached in a celebratory way, so that you don’t miss the point.
(Sadhguru is a Yogi, mystic, visionary and a New York Times bestselling author. Sadhguru has been conferred the Padma Vibhushan by the Govt of India in 2017)