India a land of plenty, culturally diverse and fervent society, celebrates various holidays and festivals with fervor. India is also a multi religion and multi cultural country and its festivals bond every one. All festivals are enjoyed by all religions. All festivals mean gaiety, good food, new clothes and good time.
There are three national holidays in India: Independence Day on 15 August, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday on 2 October, and Republic Day on 26 January. Very sadly the masses are not seen celebrating these important days as their festivals.
Popular religious festivals–
Year Round Festivities
June is the only month without any well-known festival. Some months have a pair of festivals. Paired festivals are quite alike though celebrated by different groups. Diwali and Gurpurab are just a fortnight apart. Technically Diwali is a Hindu festival and Gurpurab a Sikh one. One is on no moon night and the second on full moon in the same cycle. In prayers are held, rich festive food is consumed, places are lit. Durga Puja and Ganesh Utsav some times even overlap or are one after the other. In both clay idols of the relevant deity are brought home or special pandals are set up for these most important events for Bengalis and Maharastrians respectively. Collective prayers and cultural programs are held in both.
The two well-known and well-respected festivals of Muslims are Eid ul Fitr in August and Eid E Milan in January both concentrating on prayers and sharing with community. Buddhists have their Bodh Purnima once again a beautiful prayer based festival. Sikhs have their main festival – the birth of their first teacher Guru Nanak a prayer based and free food to all festival.
All festivals were always green, earth friendly and were meant to bring humans closer to each other’s and to other life forms. I do not know when exactly many festivals changed from pious to toxic. Probably it was a slow process. As and when a festival became a money minting business the standards eroded. Unknowingly the simple masses got entrapped into the newfound ways of celebrations. Then came the invasion of China in our most popular festivals – Diwali & Holi. Chinese lights for Diwali, Chinese spray guns and water pumps on Holi besides the related paraphernalia. Another type of erosion of our cultural values was serving of the food as Prasad -an integral part of most festivals in thermacol or plastic bowls and/or plates and/or glasses. Even outside Sai Baba Mandir where food is served very frequently but alas leaving behind a hill of toxic garbage.
Diwali got corrupted over the years as a wealth showing festivals. Many families burst crackers worth many thousands utmost reaching lakhs which is responsible for acute air and noise pollution, generation of garbage. In addition during the making and selling of crackers the laid stipulations are overlooked. Crackers are burst on Gurpurab also but thank God they have not gone out of hand.
Durga puja & Ganesh Utsav-. The final journey of the idols is the water body of the area be it sea, river, ponds etc. In each case polluting the water with the chemicals from the paint on the idols and non-biodegradable plastic or toxic thermacol decorations. The clay settles at the bottom of the water body raising its level thus making it shallower.
Christians have their big day in December a prayer based and social festival. Only problems which cropped up in this beautiful festival is the use of either plastic Christmas trees or cutting of numerous healthy Fir trees.
Dr. Ms. Iqbal Malik
Founder & Director