How useful is celebrating festivals for human society?

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“Festivals promote diversity, they bring neighbours into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, and they improve our general psychological well-being. In short, they make cities better places to live”. -David Binder.

Life is fast, furious, self-centric, and always in struggle. A person spends almost 8 hrs a day in work, spends 1-2 hrs in reaching office and returning. Then does the remaining office work, makes plans for future work. Then time is spent in all daily routines like eating, sleeping, bathing. Ultimately, a person is left with hardly a few hours for him/herself. The unsuitable thrust for wealth, prestige, survival is turning humans into machines. Kinship is getting smaller. The joint family has already disintegrated into nuclear ones and now even nuclear is in a divisive state. A person has sufficient time for one’s boss, office work but hardly any time for old parents, relatives and even offspring. The already existing chasm is getting wider day by day.

To reconvert us from a being of codes and software to a being of veins and arteries, we need to get ourselves in a state of calmness, coolness where we can think of life, family, friends. One can enjoy life only when one laughs not to please others but to please oneself. That is possible when one is between one’s family, friends, relatives and well-wishers. So, there requires something that brings us together, a small excuse for gathering. That requirement is being fulfilled in our lives since old times by festivals. Festivals are not the manifestations of today, they are continuing since ancient times. Enjoying together after hunting in Stone Age or after winning battles by clans was a way of gathering and spending time together. Such small festivity when got religious touch converts into festivals in which millions of followers of a particular sect are supposed to participate which strengthens the underlying bond and harmony among people.

Practices are of two kinds- positive and negative. Negative practices have a self-life, they cease to exist beyond that but positive practices last for eternity. Sati, slavery, bonded labour were practices on the negative side, hence, kept on decreasing until met their end. Similarly, festivals are part of positive practices which existed then and now and will be there forever. Their fervour has kept on increasing with time. Festivals bring us together, they take us away from the monotonous and hectic everyday life, they bring us out of depression into the world of peace, love, affection, care and togetherness.

Government departments are very busy and have a lot of important matters to deal with. Private companies are highly dependent on profit and every single day of theirs adds to the profit quotient. Still, both government and private departments allow their employees to take leave during festivals. Government declares holidays on certain festivals. The reason being, all the entities know that to get the best out of employees, the employees need to be in their best possible state of mind. At festivals, when people meet each other, they left the work pressure behind and delve into happiness which increases their efficiency.

Moreover, festivals give us a chance to keep connected with our culture. Deepawali reminds us of Ramayan, Holi reminds Lord Krishna, Christmas reminds Jesus, Eid-al-Fitr reminds Prophet Muhammad and so on. The festivals teach us the ideals that these great personalities preached. India is a land of diversity and festivals. Here all festivals are celebrated together. Hence, these festivals also teach a sense of togetherness, brotherhood and try to cover the chasm of so-called communalism and sectarianism. Festivals attract positivity and repel negativity. Festivals teach us love and morality. It’s a time to bury the hatchet and begin a new journey. It is seen that every year sweets are being exchanged on borders between armies during festivals. This is only symbolic but at least it is a symbol of friendship, not hatred. Hence, the usefulness of festivals is unfathomable and they are essence in human society as they kept the sense of ‘living’ alive in homo sapiens.

-Jayant Joshi