Making our own traditions and celebrations! How we can bond over festive activities.
Up until a few years ago, celebrations meant getting the entire family together in the ancestral home. The house would be filled to capacity, and laughter would be spilling over from every conceivable nook and cranny. If it sounds like Bollywood, it is because this is now mostly in Bollywood films alone. Families are scattered across the globe these days. Many times there is no leave or holiday possible, and even the place you are in will not lend itself to those traditional ways of celebration. For instance, bursting crackers in America might get you a complaint from the neighbor and even a visit from the law asking you to cease.
Does that mean we should give the festivals a miss?
No! That is a very firm ‘no’ because festivals are an integral part of our lives, our psyche, our culture, and our memories.
What do festive celebrations do for us?
Festivals have a way of bringing us closer. When we celebrate something together, it automatically brings us closer and makes for a stronger bond. No matter how far away you are from your sibling physically, the arrival of ‘Rakhee ‘ ‘Rakshabandhan’ is bound to make you miss your sibling, feel nostalgic about the good times you have had together.
They create a sense of community. Those who celebrate together stay together. We all need a sense of belonging and community. Whatever the festival, from Eid to Christmas to Janmashtami, when we come together and enjoy the festival together, it builds a community. We exchange customs, adopt those from other communities and make them our own, thus creating and being a part of something special
We create lovely memories. The beautiful glittering gold dress that you wore as a nine-year-old and the rakhi gift you got at 12 may not have been very expensive, but you felt like a princess and enjoyed that book till it was dog eared. You tell your kids about it too. If our lives were devoid of such memories, it would be so barren.
We pass on traditions. Exchanging gifts at rakhee instead of just receiving one is a tradition that speaks to fairness and equality. A special family recipe that can be enjoyed by everyone and reminisced about. These are priceless family traditions that make festivals even better.
It spreads happiness. Who does not like a celebration? It’s a time to eat, meet, be merry with friends and family. Need we say more?
So how can we celebrate festivals despite being far from our ancestral homes?
It is tough having to move away from our families and birth places, but life today demands this, and more often than not, our neighbor is our best support and everyday companion. So how do we keep alive the festive spirit? What do we do to make it as memorable and fun for all?
Create your own traditions. So ‘no crackers’ may be replaced by a special gift to the less fortunate. Share the goodies with someone who might not have anything. The sound of kindness will jingle in your hearts for a long time. Read a book with your child about the festival.
Build your community. Festive occasions are galore. We just need to adopt some that were not traditionally celebrated with fanfare. An Independence Day dinner with family and friends is as fun as a Diwali fest. Adopt local festivals and call your neighborhood. Halloween may not be Indian, but it can be fun. When you celebrate with the local community, it becomes your community. That is very close to you t all times.
Share memories. These days everyone is a call away, pick up that phone, skype, share pics, call and share your celebrations with others who may be physically far way. You no longer need to be in physical space to share emotional space. It makes celebrations even more fun.
Spread happiness. Adopt an older person and visit them on a festive day. Do something nice for someone you might not know so well. It will spread the happiness and make your festive occasion more meaningful.
So as we get into the thick of the festive season, you may not be part of a Bollywood movie, but it can be as much fun. Dance to your own tunes and create a wonderful spirit that all can revel in.