Friday, November 9, 2007

Crack(er) it up!

DIWALI!!! Yeah, I know the original word is Deepawali or Deepavali, but as long as there are crackers, sweets and a holiday involved, does it really matter? I did come across a few people insisting that the greeting be addressed as Happy Deepawali and not Happy Diwali, which, if I must make it clear, irritated me. The good old bard Shakespeare must be turning in his grave, seeing how nobody in this day and age pays any heed to the a rose by any other name blah blah thought. I hope they don't go a far as to legalize or should I say illegalize the use of the same. As if spoiling the names of Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Pondicherry, Bangalore and numerous others wasn't enough for them.

But let's not start off with negative thoughts (too late eh?)! Diwali to me is really very special. It is one of those few festivals that we celebrate in grandeur, Krishna Janamashtami being the other. Now that I look back, I can remember almost every Diwali that we have celebrated, from what I wore (*grin*) to a lot of other details. Or maybe that's just my brain malfunctioning, as usual, storing too many things than is necessary.

If there are two things that mark this festival, they are food and crackers (okay I admit, for me food is important in any case, festival or not). I am quite glad and proud of the fact that we celebrate Diwali the same way our elders used to, in the most traditional manner possible (minus the superstitions and unworldly restrictions- thank heavens for that!). So if you see food being prepared in containers made of leaves, don't be alarmed (for those not from my part of the country, this may strike as quite peculiar). As a kid, you laugh at these traditions, rituals and customs, wondering why anyone in their right sense of mind would continue with these archaic practices! But as age and maturity (ahem) greet you, you learn that the only thing that marks you as an individual and separates you from the crowd, are your traditions.

Mingling with people from each and every background, in a country like ours, is a day to day experience. You meet, you learn, you adapt - its a continuous cycle (only the degree varying from person to person). Yet while going through all of it, you wonder where you stand in the big scheme of things. I am not referring to the ever elusive "Who am I?" (philosophical gibberish) , but the more general "How am I different from every Sawyer, Tracy and Potter?"(my version of Tom, Dick and Harry, thank you very much). That's when the aforementioned traditions, rituals and customs come into play.

If there is one thing that I have observed keenly while interacting with all kinds of people, it is the fact that however may be the manner of your dressing, behaviour or attitude (rural/modern/urban), everyone takes great pride in their community. "We don't do it that way..", "in our functions..", "we celebrate it in a different way.." - statements like these are more often than not accompanied by the look of a sense of belonging. You need not even be a religious devout for it! I agree that most of these(if not all) customs originate from a religious line of thought. But nowadays, does anyone really know (or sometimes even care) about it? Coming from a caste and family where purohits/pandits are a dime a dozen, I can assure you that these customs are as irrelevant as P.T. Usha in cricket (sheesh!that was a disastrous simile)!

Yet we continue to follow them, not because we are forced to, or because we are afraid of committing a "sin", but because that is what we have been taught, that is what our parents do and that is what our forefathers did. It is our comfort zone. It defines us, it defines where we come from. We may not know who will head the government after the next elections, but we can count on the fact that there will be Durga Pooja on Dussera, Lakshmi Pooja on Diwali and our favourite sweet vanishing as fast as democracy from Pakistan(I really need to end this simile massacre!).

We are, after all, slaves to our routines.

1 comment:

  1. I say too much, too far wid the 'greeting' thingy! :)

    But as age and maturity (ahem) greet you, you learn that the only thing that marks you as an individual and separates you from the crowd, are your traditions.
    ~~Nice One!

    Too much of sentiments made me a little uneasy! :)
    (Uneasy like the condition of a ostrich's beak stuck vertically in a crocodile's mouth! Beat That! :P :P)