“Peace on Earth will come to stay, When we live Christmas everyday.” — Helen Steiner Rice.
I came across this quote while trying to do a bit of research on why Festivals have been such an integral part of any culture. How do so many people come together and celebrate, keeping aside all visible forms of hate, greed and what not.
I was fortunate enough to be witness to a “Mela” which happens here in Kotra amongst the Adivasi communities. It is a two day event where the entire community gets together, spend two entire days and nights with each other, eating, praying, singing, dancing. People of apparent other sects attend this “magical gathering” as well to get a “darshan”(sight) of the holy deities who are prayed to for the well being and prosperity of the village. Not a penny spent, not a penny thought of, but plain belief and faith bringing them together. How contrasting it is to see that such communes don’t happen in the Urban. For a gathering of this magnitude, a lot of factors are taken into consideration in the cities such as finances, security through external sources, permissions from the “administration” and so on.
I saw most of my students from my school at the mela which was happening at a village called “Rujiakhuna” which is where the school I teach at is located. The kids were surprised to see me there and the first reaction i heard from one of the kids was “Maastersaab. Thank You”. I take this to be a genuine greeting from him as they had not seen any other teacher before at their mela, and this felt special as they were introducing us to their families saying “humara mastersaab”. Badharam, a student from my school offered to pay for “chai” for us, which we declined of course. The gathering made me feel like I was one of them, which they collectively call as “humara parivaar”.
I have been wondering about a lot of things in contrast with respect to villages and urban civilizations. Let alone offering to pay money for “chai”, we wait for the other person to take their wallet out or fake a phone call and walk away from that table. We generally wouldn’t even know our neighbours exist and even if they did, interaction with them would only be in terms of disagreements over who threw the garbage in front of the house.
When we talk about poverty, what are we referring to? I would definitely say that this commune which I was witness to was the richest I have ever seen. Each person coming from afar, coming for the other. There was a very strong sense of positive energy in the gathering which I could feel and possibly heal too. When I say rich, I am referring to Faith, Belief and Love which were the only investments in the happening of this mela. These are supposedly few of the factors for festivals and gatherings in cities as well, but sadly, it has now become consumerist and limited to households. Why don’t we “educated, rich, urban dwellers” think of everyone as belonging to one family? Why is there a showcase of “material wealth”?
“Tyohaar”, Festival, “Habba” as they call it in Karnataka from where I come, seems to have lost its charm and grandeur. The “unpad, gawaar log” seem to be more “susanskruth, samajhdaar” than what we actually think we are.
I sign off with more thought and more learnings to share with you.
Dhanyavaad. Thank You.