Come festival, and everybody gets into celebratory mood. But, many times, people end up associating festivals with castes, communities or religions. And, unfortunately, instead of connecting us with others, festivals sometimes divide us.
This should not be the case. Irrespective of your own tradition, one should be able to appreciate and participate in all festivals. This shows respect towards other cultures. And, finally, leads to mutual respect among all.
Chanakya was of the same opinion as well. Book 13 of Arthashastra contains a section on how a leader is supposed to behave in a territory that has been conquered by him.
Should he respect and participate in all the festivals of other regions, including that of an enemy country that has been conquered, what about a friendly country?
Chanakya says, “And he (the leader) should show the same devotion in festivals in honour of deities of the country, festive gatherings and sportive amusements.” (13.5.8)
Common man deserves to be treated with dignity, care and concern. And, one of the best way to show this is by participation in various festivals and celebratory activities.
Here is what we can learn from the above Chanakya sutra:
1. Show devotion towards and honour for all deities
Festivals are connected to some gods and goddesses. And, every person has an emotional connect to his/her respective deity. So, what if the festival is not associated with the religion you follow, you can at least show respect and devotion to them. You can honour them. A person does not lose anything by respecting another culture or festival. In fact, such an act only leads to acceptance by other communities.
To win over the confidence of the people staying in the newly acquired territory, it is important to show respect to local deities. Chanakya suggests leaders to do the same. The locals will love this gesture. We can also apply this in our personal lives. We can celebrate our own festivals and participate and appreciate the festivals of others too.
2. Participate in festive gatherings
Festivities are about coming together of family and friends. During festival, do not just sit at home and be a loner; get ready and go out… (of course, with Corona around, please be cautious and follow protocols). Wear new dresses, deck up your home with colourful decorations, and take selfies and photos. This is what festivals are about. So, have a participative spirit and enjoy with others.
Another important aspect of festivals is food. There are delectable spreads of lipsmacking dishes being prepared during festivals... not only at home, but also at market places, hotels and restaurants. Just enjoy them. Of course, take care of your health, too. But, do not miss out on such little joys of life.
3. Sportive amusements
There are many activities that take place during festivals. Sports being one of the major amusements. Various temples and many state governments organise tournaments during festivals. For instance, in Kerala during Onam, there are snake boat races. In Maharashtra during Ganeshotsav, in Punjab during Baisakhi various activities are organised. Such sportive amusements attract not only local, but also international audience.
And, most important aspect, during festivals economy also gets an uplift. People purchase a lot of things, not only for oneself, but also for others. To give and receive gifts is a joy that everyone enjoys.
Hence, remember, as festival season is around (with Holi being celebrated today), do not be a miser. As per your capacity, spend on oneself and others too. Joys get multiplied when everyone participates and contributes to the festive atmosphere.
Let us celebrate not just festivals, but every moment of our lives.
(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)