The Times They Are A-Changin — Bob Dylan, 1964
We have grown up writing essays on Diwali as a festival of light. I wonder if my grandchildren will appreciate that description!
Nowadays there is already so much artificial light that for the Diwali evening one has to switch off most of it to create enough darkness to light up the diyas (lamps). Same is the case with creating noise for celebrations. The world is going deaf with sound pollution. We have to switch off our Television sets — especially the TV debates on prime time — to hear the crackers burst. Sweets! I remember as a child savouring sweets occasionally associating them with festivals and special occasions. When my mother used to prepare sweets at home then it used to be a day of celebration! Now one has to only open the refrigerator door and there is a mini sweet shop or ice-cream parlour.
Not so long ago, perhaps only a few decades ago, these festivals were a social occasion for poor artisans to earn some money. They helped the rich celebrate their wealth and getting their share in the bargain by selling their produce and skill, sustaining a healthy equilibrium. From sweeper to coppersmith, carpenter to potter, tailor to artisans would get busy for months. Today the rich businessmen go to China to buy incredible cheap stuff, come back and sell it to the poor people for a profit. The poor who can’t afford a square meal buys a mobile and feels empowered.
Instead of going around exchanging festive hugs, jadoo ki jhuppi, we shifted to mobile phones and now to social media and greetings is just a click. Life today is turning into a constant inorganic celebration. No wonder the festivals are losing its sheen, as we remembered it. Today a child can’t differentiate between a Diwali, Christmas or New Year and might enjoy a Halloween more.