“Celebrations infuse life with passion and purpose. They summon the human spirit.”
- Terrence E. Deal
Just like the words of Terrence E. Deal, this article will gradually become transcendental and move beyond the simple words and phrases in terms of the overall message that I want to convey to my readers. Then why do I feel the need to begin this way? It's just this time frame, you see! September, October, and November make up the long-lasting festive season in India that we cannot miss when introducing someone to our homeland.
This year, I fondly reminisce the days that began with early morning holy ceremonies performed within the family and often by the people from the same religious/cultural/social community as us.
The celebrations during the festive season continue at various periods of the day until long after midnight, with people enjoying them to the maximum with their hearts, tummies, and spirits filled with delight. One of the most thrilling aspects of festivals in India is the pressure of outfit selection on these days. They must have the right number of prints and embellishments, as well as the right kind of accessories to go with them. It sets the tone, which then leads to the finalization of arrangements with our family and friends. We discuss everything with the highest of spirits, from guest lists to searching restaurants for devouring on some delicious meals. All of these things are later reflected in a million pictures to reminisce.
The party, however, does not come to an end. For the next few weeks, we tend to chat about how much we enjoyed everything. It is our togetherness that makes the Indian culture beautiful like that.
What would be my definition of culture?
Culture is a way of life, and each culture is unique. Do we follow the rituals and customs/the cultural norms established by our forefathers because we are lazy and would prefer to follow something formed decades ago, or because it helps us feel like a family? We will look into both of these possibilities.
I will start with the positive explanation - It is because it helps us feel like a family. It has been a legacy as our grandparents taught our parents, and our parents taught us. Even if you woke up to the grumbling voice of your parents and were least interested in dressing up to attend a holy ritual early in the morning, it will be something you remember years later with a tear in your eye.
India is possibly the most culturally varied country on the planet. Every region of the country has its particular dialect, culture, and way of life. They worship various idols, perform various rites, and adhere to several customs, and the best part is that we are all aware of all of them, which is precisely how it should be. So, if you see your friend and his family celebrating a special occasion, inquire about it and learn about other cultures and ways of life. It allows us to grow by enabling us to learn from people who are different from us.
It binds us together, whether we live on the same floor or in separate countries; it is a bond that has seen the most journeys, phone calls, and now video calls.
A warm feeling will always be associated with the notion of sharing. Let's look at the opposite side of the coin, where we can be accused of being lazy for not inventing new festivals or rituals within our current events. But is that not the case?
On certain days, we emerge from our traditions to celebrate fresher events, and this does not simply occur in India but is predominant throughout the planet. We celebrate our first day baking cakes, our graduation ceremonies, to the most personal occasions – quitting an addiction, achieving the smallest of tasks, and as we very much should.
What is life without celebration?
Every day we wake up and go about the same routine as is the norm. But also, for every day that we wake up, maybe once a month we do get to do something new, and if it turns out to be something special, it becomes an occasion among the people sharing it, for years to come. Some of the many 'special' instances that I would label as weird but remember clear as day today would be watching a horror movie alone for the first time, gifting someone a bunch of flowers to wish luck, climbing a rope, or baking bad cakes for loved ones (which they still finished).
There is something warm and hearty about celebrating with people. It could be celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, small achievements like receiving your first salary, or even celebrating the same festivals, for they occur every year. It makes us feel like a family. A family that communicates in a different language but shares the same religion or follows a different religion but speaks the same tongue. A family that lives miles away and yet celebrates the same festivals or celebrates different festivals in the same neighborhood.
Belonging to something seems to make it easier to wake up and continue with the day. For isn't that what everyone wants in the end? Just to belong. So, celebrate to feel and enjoy the sense of belonging!
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