Are Religious Festivals only about fun and frolic?
We are in the thick of the Indian festive season.
The west of India celebrated Ganapathi in September. Even the floods in Kerala could not wash-out the spirit of Onam among the Malayalis.
Durga Puja in Eastern India, Navratri and Dusserah in the rest of the country are just over. In less than two weeks it will be Diwali.
A common refrain is, festivals are now more pomp less piety. Now people complain festivals are turning into carnivals. There is little sanctity left. But, that has been the crib of each passing generation.
There is a mix of rituals and enjoyment in all religious festivals across the world. Twisting the old adage, all prayer and no fun make parishioners dull people.
Thus, festivals element of devotion blended with the celebrations. Be it the midnight mass for Christians, Namaaz for the Muslims or the Puja and Aarti for Hindus. Fasting usually precedes feasting.
So, there is clearly a method to it.
The prayer services help to centre our mind and create a communion with the higher powers, in whichever form one sees it. The ceremonies plant that thought subliminally in our consciousness, which lingers through the celebrations.
Festivals are also a form of thanksgiving. Greeting elders, friends and relations are tacit acknowledgement of the support network, which is a blessing in itself.
Prayers and rituals help us drop anchor and build a sense of positive anticipation for the year ahead. A feeling that we carry even when it is time to say good-bye. Rejuvenated, we go back to our routine with renewed energy.
Hence, there is no real conflict between the spirit of the festival and merriment. So, we should not feel guilty about indulging.
More important, we do not have to self-conscious. Just go with the flow mindfully.