Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Fancy Dress Festival

Just a little while ago, my door bell rang and when I opened it there were a rash of kids celebrating, of all things, Halloween, shouting trick or treat. Kids dress up in various get-ups and go from door to door.  They took their chocolates and went their way. 

This is a festival that has lately made inroads into India - atleast in Bangalore - I myself learnt about this festival in some upmarket communities some years back . But now it looks like its being celebrated everywhere.
A few weeks ago, I was in Tiruchendur - bang in the middle of Navaratri and there were these kids and adults dressed up as monkeys, bears, Durga and so many other beings and animals  and it was beautiful to see. (This blog has some lovely pictures.)

When I grew up in Mumbai, we used to celebrate Thai Pushyam with gusto - there were kavadis on the streets, shastapreetis but of late, this has vanished.

But in urban India, I am not sure if such a festival will be celebrated. And that is worth a thought.
Between Halloween and this festival, there is very little difference. Kids (and adults) go dressed up in fancy dress. But obviously, one is our tradition (what we are) and one is some other practice. Of course, you can argue that how does it matter, we are secular, they are kids and so on. Perhaps.  But what is it that makes us forget what we are, or ignore what we are and pick up something else?

As we get educated we lose touch. And, our schools educate us very little in our traditions - indeed we are taught to denigrate them or treat them as unimportant by and large. And what we do have are the big social themed events like Ganpati in Maharashtra, Pujo in Bengal, Dassehra in Bengal etc. This process is worth a thought. Or is it that we are so divided that a North Indian will not celebrate Pongal and a South Indian will not celebrate Karva Chauth and therefore, it is easier to accept something that belongs to neither?

In a root canal procedure, the pulp is removed and what is left is the tooth without any life. Sometimes, if I wonder if our education does just that to us.

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