Celebrations: Contagious Calamity!

Celebrations, in totality, are syndromes from which you cannot escape. It has complex, multi-layered systems each reinforcing (and supporting) the other. With passage of time these things get institutionalized and if objected or opposed would create ill-will as well as hostility, writes DR. ABDUL GHAFFAR KHAN.

Gone are the days when India’s used to be an agro-based economy. We, as a nation, are becoming celebration oriented as there are more celebration days than the poor calendar can afford. Eids apart, we go on hunting for days to justify/ satisfy our appetite for celebrations. Birthdays, marriage anniversary, national holidays, birth day of political avatars, urs, shabarat, bara wafat, cricket match victories, new year day, valentine day etc. Though we demand Sachar committee report because we, as a community, are backward, so far as celebrations are concerned, we do not want to carry the stigma of being a backward community. We do not want to miss a single celebration and would ingeniously find reasons for celebrating.

What happened in Bombay (in fact recurring year by year) on the occasion of New Year does not dampen our spirit. No city wants to remain behind. If Bombay has its Juhu (for molestation) Bangalore won’t lag behind and has a Brigade road to boast of. Revelers are revelers and this is irrespective of religious tags.

Muslim youth can afford time, money and energy for all celebrations. We would even surpass the compatriots of other communities. We celebrate not just our own festivals but are quite large-hearted in responding to the festivals of other religions. I spent almost six decades in non–Muslim localities, but I did not find so many crackers bursting there on Deepawali as I did last year while living in a Muslim area. Yes, we should show our solidarity with other communities, since our integrity is always suspected if we burst cracker if Shoaib Akhtar or Wasim achieves success (we have learnt to check our sportsman spirit). But every stroke by Dhoni and Yuvi must be celebrated with a cracker so that our non-Muslim neighbours give a clean chit to our integrity. Come Makar Sankranti, our kites are up in the sky. In order to make colourful demonstration of our jubilant spirit and our skills in kite-flying, we carve crescents on them which quite after get trampled by a passing pedestrian.

Communal jubilation (or condolence) are attached with success (or failure) of every kite. Nowhere is Islam so strongly pursued! So obsessed are our children during kite-flying on Sankranti that they often fall from the roof top or fall in a well and go straight into the arms of death. We leave it to Allah to decide whether to consider these “martyrs” of kite flying eligible for heaven! No celebration is complete without crackers. We are extremely touchy when a strict administration wants to restrict the use of amplifiers for Adhaan.

However, we as well as the administration, turn a deaf ear towards the decibel limits for Sound pollution the crackers burst at, disturbing the students and patients suffering insomnia in none of an Islamic agenda. Scriptures tell us to avoid extravaganza and that too on trivial objects. Yet we have plenty of money to burn on crackers. Our Islam is not at all hurt by such shameless (and colossal) waste of money. We play with fire works conveniently oblivious of religions prohibitions. Everything must be celebrated with a bang!

Hoardings, flex banner keep us educated about the sixtieth birth day of a corporator a loyalist of some political   party. Newspaper advertisements keep the coffers of the press people over flowing. We could have spent money in an orphanage or a charity hospital but since it does not bring us any political patronage we have to express our loyalty by spending on greetings so that our “sacrifice” is taken cognizance of!

Greeting cards convey our sentiments in highly emotional tone with an extravaganza of poetic diction. There is now a card for every occasion. Our duty towards some one whom we love is dependent on the literary exuberance of a commercial enterprise. Though SMS have to a great extent replaced them, there is still a thriving market dealing in greeting cards. SMS on mobiles go on flooding your handset to celebrate an occasion by dedicating film songs to your friends and relatives! On Eid, we are provided with options to choose from the various types of display we would like our dear ones to receive.

New Year day celebrations are becoming an enormous fad. More hilarious and merrier, the more enlightened shall we be deemed. Your Credentials. You book your tables in hotels according to your purse strings – food and beverage and of course, you don’t do it alone. There should be a bunch of revelers to wish as soon as the clock strikes twelve and you will be surely considered an absolute failure if you don’t of bring you “date along” ! More the merrier! This shall be followed by hugs and what not! Chalata hai! Our Islamic conscience can be given a small dose of calmpose (anesthesia)! The New Year begins with headache and hangover and we want to keep the spirit of indolence dragging for a few more days.

No celebration is perfect without glitters. One must be adequately dressed for occasion. Here comes big business – trendy dresses keep you the centre of attraction. And needles to say – for every occasion you require a new outfit. This keeps the fashion designers busy. The multi nationals should not be allowed to starve and pack away?

Celebrations, in totality, are syndromes from which you cannot escape. It has complex, multi-layered systems each reinforcing (and supporting) the other. With passage of time these things get institutionalized and if objected or opposed would create ill-will as well as hostility. The Nawabs used to arrange grand scale celebration of the marriages of their pups and courtiers were supposed to pay their respect to the newly weds. Modern Nawabs have now several pretexts to squander their money on. After all, our GDP has registered a substantial increase.

I must end this gossip soon – I have to attend a celebration or two!


Dr. Abdul Ghaffar Khan is the former Head of the English Department, Vikram University, Ujjain. 

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