How useful is celebrating festivals for human society?

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     The tradition of celebrating festivals dates back to the beginning of human civilization. Many archeological pieces of evidence of Indus Valley Civilization, Mesopotamia, etc, paintings on cave walls, etc all symbolize the celebration of important events or days in life whose sophisticated form is now known as “Festivals”. Gathering of people at a place, eating, drinking, singing and dancing together during celebrations started during pre-historic times, continues till date. Celebration of festivals has become part and parcel of people from all religions, regions, cultures and they are helpful to human society in a lot of ways as explained below.

Economic use of festivals to human society:

Festivals bring in huge economic activity. Shopping for clothes, accessories, jewelry, vehicles, Prayer essentials, etc generates revenue thereby bringing a positive economic cycle. We see in India Dhanteras, a couple of days before Diwali and Akshay Tritiya are considered as very auspicious days for buying gold. Hence those days record the highest sale of gold in the year. Similarly, since Pandavas in Mahabharata did Ayudha pooja which led to their victory on Vijaya Dashami, the day every year is considered auspicious for buying heavy machinery including vehicles. The same is the case in countries like the USA, where we see a lot of offers in merchandise during the festival of Christmas to cater to the demands of consumers. To meet our loved ones, people tend to travel during festivals. Holidays are also used to go on a vacation by a few others. Such travel also generates revenue and boosts the tourism, hospitality sector. Helps in the spiritual journey of mankind: Almost all big festivals which we celebrate in the present-day, symbolize the triumph of good over evil. These stories remind us again of the values which must stick to throughout our lives. By listening to these stories our next generation also gets inspired to walk in the right direction. For example, the celebration of Christmas symbolizes the value of sacrifice. Prayers performed on days of festival help us calm our mind from everyday chaos. This also helps in focusing on more important aspects of life. Festivals are also days of holidays. Hence, we get time to spend with our friends, family, and other loved ones. This fills us with joy to go on with our day-to-day tasks.

Helps to bring in religious harmony and peace to society:

We observe that every year in the month of Ramadan, there is less military activity along the India-Pakistan borders. Because violence is not tolerated by even the common man during the holy month of Ramadan, both nations have seized fire agreements. We see how people from different religions are invited for lunch/dinner during festivals to build a new bond between them. Moreover, philanthropic donations also improve during festivals thereby meeting the basic needs of the downtrodden and hence reducing the crime rate in society marginally. This is further supported by reduced alcohol consumption during auspicious days. Festivals teach us the value of hygiene both inside and outside: Hindus chant mantras during festivals, which acts as meditation and cleanse their mind. The same is the case with offering Namaz every day by a Muslim. People across religions clean their homes during festivals. COVID19 pandemic has shown us the importance of hygiene in human life. Some Yogic gurus also claim that our body gets purified if we skip a meal for a few days in a year. This is more pronounced in the fast-food era of the present generation.

Builds patriotic feelings and uplifts humanity:

National festivals like Republic Day and Independence Day are celebrated by all citizens of a nation. We see people from all walks of life come together to remember the sacrifices of our nation's builders. This builds a patriotic mindset in young children. Similarly, globalization is leading to the spread of New Year, Thanks Giving, and Hallowing day celebrations to nuke and corner of the world. These days we get the sense of all humanity being one giant family.

Celebration enriches our culture:

Festivals are an expressive way to celebrate glorious heritage, culture, and traditions. They are meant to rejoice in special moments and emotions in our lives with our loved ones. Festivals and special events lead to many benefits within the host community. As stated earlier, these benefits include building social cohesion, providing a sense of place, providing public goods beyond entertainment, and providing a socially acceptable area for public actions. However, COVID-19 has posed new threats in ways of celebrating festivals. Human beings have a habit of group celebrations. This is increasing the risk of COVID-19 spread. This is the reason for multiple restrictions imposed by governments during festivals.

     However, the psychological strength we need to fight such pandemics can be drawn by going back to the history of festivals. Festivals remind us that the dark days do not last long. “There will be a ray of light at the end of a long dark tunnel”.

      Moreover, fringe elements in society are using religious festivals to divide society on the grounds of religion by spreading violence. More often than not such elements are also used by politicians for their electoral gains. Humans should rise above such parochial mentality and not let a handful of people spoil the spirit of festivals. Let the light of festivals spread and be used for the upliftment of mankind for future generations to come. 

-Anusha Kolli