India is a land of festivals. There are so many festivals which are celebrated across our country that at times we forget to even keep a count. Regional, state or national festivals – all add to the beauty of our country.
There are many benefits of festivals. People coming together to celebrate, exchanging goods and services, giving gifts, decorations, cooking – all add to the festive mood. And, the economy also gets a push. Everyone’s energy level goes up. There is so much fun and entertainment around. Even Chanakya suggested that the king should be part of the festive activities in his kingdom.
“And he (the king) should show the same devotion in festivals in honour of deities of the country, festive gatherings and sportive amusements”
He is instructing the leader of the people to participate with devotion in the festivals and honour the gods and deities along with organising entertainment activities.
One suggestion from above should be given importance – don’t forget the deities. Often, we forget the very essence or the reason behind the festival we are celebrating. For instance, with Ganesh festival coming to an end today, and Navratri and Diwali being celebrated in the next two months, there is a lot of action.
But, do not get lost in the activities, but also think about the values that the festivals and their respective gods teach us. This is the missing point.
Let us see what we can do to make festivals meaningful.
1. Read about the history
There is a lot of historical and cultural background for every festival. Unfortunately, most of us celebrate it as a ritual without knowing the history behind it.
So, let us do some research – how and where each festival started. Today, there are so many sources of information available. You can find it on the internet, or read books written by scholars.
Even if book shops are closed, you can order them online or even download a soft copy. It is worth the effort. There could be multiple versions of the stories. You will know much more than others. You will be happy with the knowledge you gain about the festival.
2. Participate with enquiry
Have an enquiring mind during every festival. Ask yourself and others about the significance. When we celebrate Navratri (nine nights), which are the goddesses that we worship on which day? And, why is Dusshera or Vijayadashami on the 10th day? What are the colours associated with these days? It changes from region to region.
It is so much fun to participate in festivals with awareness. If you get a chance, ask a priest or an elderly family member or community. They will help you understand the logic.
3. Be part of the legacy
Don’t just gather information and knowledge about the festivals. Go spread it around. Tell a story, stage a drama or dance. Shoot some videos and take some pictures. Go tell the world about the unique learnings that you have come across. Be a value creator of our culture. Educate the next generation, and make them feel happy and enlightened about the festivals.
And a very important aspect – do spend some money. Go buy some dresses and visit friends (with social distancing). Wealth is something that has to be shared.
If you have financial problems, spend as per your capacity. But don’t be a miser. When all are having fun, don’t sit there with a sad face. Get up and get going.
It is said in our Sanskrit literature, “Manava Utsava Priya…”, meaning human beings love festivals. It is our basic nature to be happy. And festivals give us that divine happiness.
So, during the festivals and after the festivals are over, remember the significance because all festivals come back next year.
As it is said in Maharashtra it’s time to bid goodbye to Lord Ganesh after 10 days of festivity: “Pudhchya varshi lavkar ya…” (Come back soon next year).
(The writer is Founder Director of Chanakya Aanvikshiki Pvt Ltd, a best selling author and an expert on Chanakya’s teachings. He can be followed on his twitter @rchanakyapillai)