Ganesh Chaturthi and Navratri are two of the most widely celebrated festivals throughout India. Big idols, gigantic mandals, elaborate decorations and king-size budgets.  Each of these increasing year-after-years to make the festivals bigger and better.  The queue outside the mandals also grew longer.  It felt good to see this (though it also means spending more time standing in the queue).

However, the best part was that people did this because they like doing this – bringing home Ganpati idols, hosting Navratri pooja, the preparations and decorations, unlike the olden time. Most of the things then were done due to the fear of God. People celebrated Ganpati not because they had immense faith in Him but because they didn’t want to make Him angry.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow – The things that changed

The way each festival is celebrated today is a modified version of the way it was celebrated earlier. The celebrations were elaborate then and more emphasis was on God. Now the event and God both are equally important to us. Blurring of the lines between castes and religion has made everyone a part of all these rituals. It brings us together and adds the fun factor. This has reduced the seriousness of the ‘God’ element. Man now considers God as someone who helps during an adversity rather than constantly punishing us for not doing something.

Education, urbanization and increase in purchasing power have led to man’s transition from God fearing to God loving. People think rationally now as they have become pragmatic. They don’t do it just because it used to be done by the generations before them. They have their rationale behind it. It could be as simple as to make their children aware of all the customs.

As people are moving into the cities, they are getting a broader perspective of the society. To gratify their basic need for socialization they start attending every festival being celebrated around them – be it Christmas or Eid. Our society has progressed and man is open to new things now. This has made him realize that God is not only what his religion preaches but one eternal force with no shape and size.

The increase in our purchasing power has given us the ability to celebrate the holy occasions in a grand way, something our ancestors did not even think of. People don’t mind spending on sweets, clothes, big idols and expensive decorations. They want it to be classy. People have reinvented the style of doing there rituals and not just stick to the traditional ones.

While science has helped man in evolving from a conservative to radical, this journey was long especially in India. Even today there are people who fear God – which is sometimes correct or else we’ll take Him for granted – the number of such people is decreasing, however. People’s belief in Him has risen and so they worship Him for His love and guidance. This progress for man is very vital as it tells us where we place God in our lives. He doesn’t dominate our life but steers it in the right direction.

Some people may call this as being ‘modern’ and breaking down of our traditions but if it’s coming from someone’s heart, then what’s the harm? This juxtaposition of tradition and style, duty and fun… I’m loving it!

– Abhay Maheshwari, TIF

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