We are at that time of the year where festivals will rule our lives for the next few months. As we move from the summer months to the winters the little chill in the air only adds to the mood. Festivals have a way of bringing out the best in us. The colorful clothes, the festivities and the delicacies have their own charm. Have you noticed that the festivals of India put a smile on your face? They’re all about celebrations at the individual level as well as at the community level. Can you imagine celebrating Janamashtmi, Gurpurab , Christmas or Ganesh Chaturthi in your homes ? No way. The carefully and joyfully decorated temple, Church and Gurudwara beckon you. Even if you’re not in the mood you dress up and venture outside and come back refreshed. You don’t just come rejuvenated but also come back with your belly full and taste buds satiated. The food stalls and the vendors offer common ware, but the moments are such that you end up devouring all. We have realised the importance of celebrating together more after Corona. We realised how isolation could wreck havoc with our physical and mental health.
Festivals in India are all about family, community and neighbourhood. They help us to connect with each other. For kids growing in apartments these festivals are a lesson in sharing and caring. Gone are the days when delicacies were exchanged simply over the wall of the neighbours. Whatever was made in one house was expected to be shared with the neighbours. This was reciprocated by one and all. Flats and apartments have cloistered children within the four walls. It is only during festivals that we get to meet each other. Thus, festivals assume an even greater role in community building. With more and more children as well as their elders spending time with that little instrument called the mobile phone, islands of isolation are on the rise. Many amongst the young are happy with their virtual friends and families. They do not realise that virtual cannot take the place of the real.
We have to end this temptation of being isolated and the concept of ‘breathing space’. Festivals can help us get in touch with reality. Make the children step into the market, let them deal with the crowds. They will know how to deal with people. They have to deal with people in their schools, public parks, birthday parties and later in their workplaces. Festivals help children learn the fine art of bargaining and buying. Involve kids in decorating the homes. The colourful rangoli, the decoration with flowers will not only give the home a new look but will also help the child develop a new, fresh perspective. The expensive crystal showpieces can be kept for later. The decoration during the festivals is personal. Children can learn through these projects that it does not take much money to decorate a home, what is needed is lots of love and brains to turn the same home into a slice of heaven. No event manager could do this task. And what have the children learnt from this exercise ? They would have learnt to coordinate and put together lots of things.
Every festival starts with some or the other ritual or a prayer. Children might be lazy but when it comes to the auspicious occasion they dress up in the traditional attire and strut proudly. The colour of the festivals just catches on absorbing each and every individual into their folds. The children come out of their rooms, touch the feet of the elders, blush at the blessings ,revel in the joy and the pride which is bestowed on them. Families which pull the children into all the festivities assigning some or the other role to their children are actually gifting their children values of a lifetime. Festivals test the social skills of one and all, especially of the children. But it also helps them prepare for the future. As we grown ups realise, festivals are indeed a great stress buster. In the humdrum of life in which we get lost It is these festivals which help us connect with each other as well as with Nature. Remember how our grandparents pulled us along when they visited relatives and friends in the festival season? They carried simple gifts but gifts which were laced with love . It felt like torture back then but it is these relatives and friends who have stood with us in moments of joy and sorrow.
We have to work in the same manner with our children. We have to teach them that festivals are not all about money, pomp and splendour. It is feelings that matter. Festivals can help spread the message that traditional rituals have a charm of their own. When guests come over to wish on Diwali let the children serve sweets. You might have umpteen servants but when children serve they learn lessons in humbleness. Let your children go and serve in the community kitchen(langar) whenever they can. When you give gifts to the house help , let the children be around. Let them notice how people’s eyes light up with gratitude over things that our children take for granted. Let your children accompany you to those trips to the market where they can see how vendors try to sell their wares so that they can celebrate a festival with their families. Your children will learn the value of hard-work and honest living.
Festivals help us to connect with each other. With so much competition the children have forgotten to take pleasure in small joys of life. The cut-throat competition leaves no room for compassion and empathy. But it is these values that are going to stand in good stead. One needs a certain set of social skills to tide through life. As our world becomes more technologically driven, more mechanical there are people who feel that we can do with a fetus- like approach. But look at the crowds in the market, the decorated markets and the festivities around and you will beg to differ. No machine can take the place of human touch, speech and smell. So all you children over there, step out of your rooms and go and enjoy with your families. It is that time of the year when the Gods descend to bless us all. We are lucky that we belong to a country whose each festival brings a smile on our faces. So why sit and ponder?
Festival time is bonding time, With the family, friends and the neighbourhood. Go and discover new friends. Go and give chocolates to that little child who is selling flowers in the corner. Spend time with the old couple around the corner whose children have settled abroad. Their blessings will do wonders. Festivals are all about caring, sharing and loving. These festivals teach you how to talk and live life to the fullest. They leave you with memories of a lifetime. So go and cherish these moments.