Friday, March 15, 2013


A couple of days back, I had been to a friend's wedding. And also turned 33. Both occasions called for a celebration by conventional traditions. While weddings are "grand affairs", birthdays are relatively personal. But, both are celebrated, and I wonder why?

Not just personal occasions, but even community/national events… every other day, we have some or the other religious holiday, or some jayanti or punyatithi or a national holiday. Just another reason to celebrate or have a holiday.

What is the reason and logic behind having these holidays, and the so called enforced celebrations?

Then there are these “Hallmark” celebrations. Mother’s day, father’s day, lover’s day, friendship day, blah blah blah… it seems we need a special day to show our love and affection to our special ones… hmmmm

What is the significance? Why at all do we celebrate? What is the meaning and symbolism of particular days?

Marriages, have a special place in our lives, and an important one at that. That is why, almost all major religions have attached some weightage to this human-need and have ascribed some rituals to ensure that we do it the ‘right way’. Separate all the religious, social, civilized and evolutionary notions attached to marriages – and what remains is an basic, human need very similar to food, shelter and ‘functional clothing’ (by functional I mean protective… and not the fashionable stuff which is again a highly debatable notion).

Very crudely, if I may, we are finding ourselves a mate! In a more civilized manner, a soul-mate!

Soul-mates are very different… it could be a friend, a teacher or some other person with whom you can connect at a very different level… it’s not a primate connection but a very sublime one…

Here, your mate may or may not grow into your soul-mate… So, it is a chance that you are taking - which is very much present & potent in an arranged marriage! And at what cost are you getting this ‘soul’mate??? Dowry, grand receptions, ‘big fat’ bridal gifts, etc, etc… so essentially, we are celebrating an uncertain future at the cost of a very expensive present!

Coming to birthdays… no big deal as marriages, but yes they have an importance – perhaps marked by evolution & traditions! A personal celebration, a reason to throw a small party to close friends and family! It actually is a good thing. Taking some time out of our busy lives and spending some quality time with our near ones. That is good enough a reason – but then why restrict it to a single day of the year? A day when hundreds were born with you and perhaps hundreds also met their end! And we are not some national figures or celebrities… shouldn't it be a personal affair… and not public?? But, there isn't anything private any longer… our digital lives bare all our ‘statistics’ and hearts and souls!!! Which may not always be a good thing.

For me on a personal front, it’s just another day. My wife has made a resolution not to celebrate them for religious reasons - Islamic view is that, with every birthday, you are getting closer to death… not a very pleasant idea… I mean nearing death every single day… but it is logically correct view… now, I’m not a very religious person… spiritual?? Yes!!! Religious?? hmmm, not very sure… nevertheless to support my better half and to follow a bit of logic… I’m not celebrating birthdays.

It’s as simple as that, yet people have asked politely, probingly and even cursingly :) , for being unreachable on my birthday. A simple explanation here will help, I guess. And it is a personal choice I’m making…

That’s for my birthday… but birthdays of public figures is a different ball-game all together. 2nd October, Gandhi Jayanti, is my favorite one :) It has been declared by government as a dry day. So people pile up their ‘stocks’ few days before. Enabling a liquor baron to earn more profits… he in turn buys Gandhi memorabilia at an international auction… government/people doesn't like this and go very vocal against him… what an ironic chain of events… yes I know it is a very naive example and linking may not be very accurate! But, Bapu must be laughing at us from heavens… or is he sad and gloomy over the dry-spell!!!

Sometime back, I really didn't want to celebrate a festival with regular pomp, since there were many unpleasant things going around the world. Not that they affected us in any way, but they did affect people elsewhere. Well, you already might have guessed what happened… I was supposedly spoiling the spirit of joy, bonhomie and festivities…

This time around, trouble is at our doorstep. We’re facing one of the most terrible droughts in recent history… I wonder how things would be different this time? Should I now insist on celebrating festivities?? In proper spirit and ways?? What is the ‘proper’ spirit at such times?? And should we make exceptions??

Days of remembrances should teach us to lead better lives by following the paths of great teachers. These days should be the occasions, where we introspect and get motivated to lead an exemplary life… every single day… every single day should be inspiring and helping us discover the true meaning of life and its motive, the reason for our existence, the reason for our celebrations and rejoice - for the opportunity that it brings us, to change our world in a positive and better way for one and all… every single day… everyday!!

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