Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Do I celebrate Onam?

The festival of Onam was celebrated last week. On the happy occasion, I greeted my friends on Facebook. Some of them, however, were surprised that being a North Indian I was greeting the people of Kerala on the pretty festive occasion. A few of them even wanted to know if I celebrate the festival myself. I responded as best as possible.

But that did not satisfy me enough. And so this blog post.

Again, do I celebrate Onam?

Yes, I do. And I also celebrate Christmas, Eid, Deepawali, Lohri and Ganesh Chathurti and several other festivals. That's what festivals are for. To celebrate. To spread joy and to connect with your loved ones and friends. To be happy. To remember the good things of life. Aren't they? I find it rather odd to explain to people whether I celebrate a particular festival or not. That too in India which is renowned for its secularism and celebrates different festivals round the year, most of which are based on various religious/traditional beliefs.
Growing up in an army family has taught me to believe in the supreme power and celebrate life in all its forms. In fact, I've grown up watching my parents give due importance to each and every prominent festival of the country. In the Army there is no, "Your Festival vs. My festival." If it's a festival then it's for everyone to celebrate.
Moreover, some of my closest friends follow Sikhism and Christianity. During my college days I was a member of the Methodist Youth Fellowship. I used to sing in the church choir too and was given honorary membership of the YMCA (and not YWCA), for my contributions. Durga Puja is one of my favourite festivals as is Diwali. I'm a member of a lay Buddhist organisation for the past five years and follow their teachings. To me religion is a way of life. And I believe that there can be many ways to lead one's life and be happy. Also, I love the vibrant, joyful and positive atmosphere of  different festivals and don't see  why I can't celebrate a particular festival or at least wish others on the happy occasion. Even if I don't belong to the particular religion or follow the exact rituals.

Let me end the note with an apt quote by Shri Rabindranath Tagore:

"You are invited to the festival of this world and your life is blessed."