For us Indians, the time around October-November is full of festivities and celebration. With a host of festivals: Dussehra, Durga Puja, Diwali, Guru Nanak Jayanti and Id all falling within a few days of each other, there is not much else on everyone’s minds except finding ways to make the best of the holiday season. But what really has this celebration of the festive season started to mean? From being a time meant to get together with the family, to drowning yourself in the ethos of good over evil that this time signifies, to celebrate the transition from summer to winter, to revel in the air of joy and excitement….the festive season has started to take a rather different connotation in the minds of the urban clans. Festival time has turned into a period of mad shopping: not for pleasure but to flaunt, a time to put others down and show your economic affluence to the less fortunate, a time to indulge in gambling, binge drinking and other crass pass-times.
The meaning and idea of having a a festival meant for family togetherness has been completely lost in the face of the greed and hyper-activity and tension that marks holiday time today. From being a time when aunties and uncles would get together with friends, or sons and daughters would come back home to their parents, grandparents and cousins to go out and have fun, Diwali time has turned into a commercial holiday meant for reveling in the discounts and shopping for mere fulfillment of greed.
Why have we forgotten what it means to have a proper family holiday? Why have we forgotten that Diwali is a time for shared celebration, large dinners with people you hardly get to meet, a time for old friends and acquaintances to reconnect with each other, or a time to even reconnect with the spiritual being inside you? One doesn’t need to be religious or rich to celebrate a tradition like Diwali. All one needs is togetherness, love and joy to enjoy the beauty, the lights, the sounds of the puja and crackers around. Holiday time-Diwali time, is the perfect opportunity to make amends to unhealthy lifestyles, unhealthy thinking and a time to make new resolutions.
Only if one shuns the element of greed, of pride, of unnecessary extravagance can one truly become one with the spirit of the festive season and enjoy it for what it really is. Undesired and unnecessary tensions only kills the spark of this time and makes it like any other day in the calendar.
Here are a few ways one can redeem the spirit of the festive season:
1. Reconnect with old friends and family members. Send them a hello, invite them to dinner, meet for coffee. This is the perfect time to relive beautiful memories and make new ones.
2. By all means, go shopping. But remember to shop in moderation. Shop in the spirit of the festival. Shop for things that will make the festival more beautiful and enjoyable, not things you can show off later. A new plasma TV can be bought later, invest in some nice diyas for Diwali.
3. While you are at it, shop for others too. It doesn’t need to be something big and lavish. Even small gestures go a long way in sustaining relationships and making them stronger. A box of mithai and chocolates spell love more than a vase no one will use.
4. Think about the loved ones in your life. Take some time out to cherish old memories. They are what keep life going.
5. Clean the house. Throwing out the trash from your house will make you feel better, it even feels like cleaning a part of your existence. Give away old clothes, dust those old books. A clean house feels great to live in!
6. Redecorate the house. Change is almost always good. The festive season is the perfect time for new beginnings and you will start feeling and loving the change if you start with small things. Place some flowers in the living room. Rearrange your closet.
7. Do something nice for someone else. Having helped someone in need gives the best feeling in the world! Not to mention it makes your heart (and face) glow!
8. Most importantly, relax. Take a break. Its holiday time. Get some good sleep.
9. Indulge a little. So far its in moderation, a little pampering goes a long way in making oneself feel better for a long time. Take a long bath. Do a manicure. Gorge a little on those sweets. You don’t need to torture yourself to live.
10. Remember, inner happiness and inner peace is more important that outer glories like wealth.