Brightening the Festival of Lights Beyond the Panorama October 26, 2014

Brightening the Festival of Lights

What comes to your mind when I say to you, “HAPPY DIWALI!”?

Lights, of course. Crackers? Mithai?

I asked my 13-year old sister the same question and I got a rather strange reply. Math homework, she said with a disinterested grumble, undone hair.

In this age of westernization and more than that, globalization, we Indians very gladly accept international ideas and traditions; but what we are forgetting to bring to this global village is the rich culture of Indian tradition.

In this integrated world, Indian youth must look to maintain their identity. Following this typical statement, I wish to elucidate by taking the example of Deepawali. Look around and you will see that the mannerisms of celebration of the most pious festival include glamorous parties, with pints of alcohol, poker and the most evident “lights”, multitudes of crackers in the hazy sky. But this merely is an observation and not the objective of this article.

If a 13-year old kid is busy wondering how to get her Math homework done during the week of Diwali, what can guarantee that she will be in the sprit of Diwali say 20 years from now and consequently propagate the undistorted vigor of Diwali? Therefore, the epicenter of this article is upholding the spirit of Diwali keeping in mind the academic calendar. A good week of holidays gives institutions an opportunity to load the students with homework and conduct examinations following this festive week. Projects, assignments, report; I have always associated Diwali week with multitasking and juggling between festive formalities and schoolwork, the latter taking second priority. To look at this from the educational institution’s point of view, I understand that their calendar is jam-packed; but improvised planning can contribute to re-furbishing the fading heritage of the Golden Bird. Surely, school could borrow a little from the winter and sumptuous from the summer vacation to facilitate a celebratory week of Diwali. If you have watched those ridiculously appalling videos about the “GK of the Country”, you know what I am talking about. I’ve had my share of laugh too, but it is embarrassing to say the least when the so-called future of the country is unaware of the significance of this beautiful festival.

This blog isn’t a rant about the degrading cultural awareness of our youth or a complaint about overload of homework, but a point of view to make it better. Look beyond the panorama and look to where this might stem from. Is it only ignorance, or could this be a contributing factor?

It is about the frame of mind of a person; coming over of guests, smiling pretentiously at family gatherings is a big nuisance when you know that come Monday morning, you will receive your teacher’s wrath. Take some time out, you may say? Well, I don’t think it works that way. There is a focus required for successful completion of schoolwork, because we all know that it has a greater purpose. There is a focus, a frame of mind I believe, for celebration too. Thus, celebrating Diwali can be looked at as maintaining the right state of mind, to celebrate it with the appropriate enthusiasm it deserves, not for the joy and happiness of individuals alone, but to save a sinking ship.

Why not make the October India’s December?

As they now say in the global village, Happy Holidays! 😀

 Radhika Sethi 

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