Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Pioneer- Dilli Billi-18th Nov 2012- "Festivals have lost meaning"

Festivals have lost meaning
Gone are the days when festivals like Diwali were celebrated with simplicity. Spending time with the family has been replaced with getting drunk and gambling away lakhs of rupees.
Diwali is one festival that I look forward to. And for one reason – the entire family comes together and for the next three days, it is celebrations all around. The festival is so simple yet there is much to rejoice. Days are spent eating alu puris and lots of mithai. In our family, it is a tradition to play teen patti. Of course, since every family member plays, the stakes are not too high – it is limited to 10 board.  It’s bonding time for my family and my husband’s too.
Strangely, these kind of celebrations are seen as old fashioned and boring now. Today, for most, Diwali means getting drunk and playing cards where stakes are in lakhs. I am told, sometimes, it goes as high as a crore. I have some friends who chartered a plane and took their card playing friends to a resort so that they would not be disturbed. The question of spending time with family was zero.
Their life is so different. I feel sorry for these parents and their children. For me, festivals like these are family time. Those who don’t bond on these occasions usually find themselves at a loose end. If parents are busy elsewhere, who will teach the children importance of bonding with each other? Who will teach them the meaning of giving, patience and tolerance towards each other?
For me, the biggest gift an elder can give to the younger generation is values. Unfortunately, over the years, the meaning of Diwali has undergone a change. For many, especially in the Government, it has become a means to bribe officials and politicians by giving them expensive gifts. Love is weighed not by affection and hugs and cares but how much the Diwali present cost.
Therefore, our generation is confused. Studying in foreign universities and exposure to the western culture means that these children have not been able to fully adopt a single culture. Being modern, to them, means freedom which in turn means that all their demands must be met – a Mercedes or a BMW and pocket money to spend at pubs with no questions asked. And if a parent does ask for an explanation, the usual retort is ‘stay out of my personal life’.
Till date, I have not understood what is personal between a parent and a child, especially if the child is financially dependent on the parents for everything. I wonder why a parent allows a child to bully or emotionally blackmail them. Parents who give in to their child’s demands every time usually end up ruining their ward’s future.
When I was a child, I was never given a choice of missing prayer times, meal times, and any festival or birthdays. Today, some parents ask their teenage kids if it would suit them to attend a particular family function.
Most of the children today, don’t’ know why some of the festivals are celebrated. Our rich heritage and traditions has been lost to them. The west wants to learn our culture, values and traditions. Our own children are running away from it.
I felt ashamed when my friend’s son said that he didn’t know why Diwali is celebrated. What is sadder still is that he knew why Christmas is celebrated but ignorant about festivals in India. Faulty upbringing and giving wrong values is the cause of many problems in the society today.
It is time we took pride in celebrating our festivals.

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