Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Can We Have One New Year Pliss?

Today is the Bengali New Year. The number of New Years we have in this country is truly amusing. There are as many New Years as the number of communities!

Malayalis have their own new year - Vishu. Tamils have theirs - Puthandu. Andhraites have theirs too - Ugadi. Maharashtrians have Gudi Padwa, Punjus/Sikhs have Vaisakhi etc. Every community celebrates their new year on different dates. I wonder how they decided which date to celebrate it on!!

I grew up in Bihar. I don't think Biharis fall into any ethnic community per se. Neither do UPites. We consider ourselves to be part of the 'North Indian' species. The "cow people" if you will (no offence meant to anyone, UP & Bihar ARE known as the "cow belt" of India).

I also don't think we have any festivals intrinsic to our community, the Bihari community that is. Though I must admit that I don't count myself as part of the Bihari community for the simple reason that I belong to a very non-Bihari family, and my upbringing has been very different from that of kids in typical Bihari families.

So even if there are any festivals celebrated only among Biharis, I would've seen them being celebrated in other people's homes only. Don't know if that is a good or a bad thing. Honestly, I couldn't care less. My idea of Diwali is lighting candles around my house while in my parents' house a Lakshmi-Ganesh Puja is a must on Diwali. My Holis are spent locked inside my house & Durga Pujas are spent as far from my parents' house as possible, since their house becomes a 'vegetarians only' zone for the ten days of Durga Puja. Heck, they don't even use onions & garlic for those ten days!! To be fair to them, I must admit that they were not like this before. They have become this way due to certain incidents that have happened to them.

To me, all of this is pointless really. I don't believe following all these traditions...or visiting a temple on a particular day every week...or fasting on certain days of the week/month is going to improve the quality of our life in any way....or make us more successful or rich or healthier..or make us live longer. We'll only get those things in life that we have worked towards. Our success / failure is a result of the choices we make, the decisions we take in life. How long we end up living will be a result of our genetic make-up, the environment & our lifestyle choices. We will be healthy if we give importance to our physical, mental & emotional health and take care of ourselves. No miracles / short-cuts here!

Of course, there is such a thing as destiny. I believe in it too. But destiny always presents us with a situation where we have at least two choices, and the course of our life depends on which way we decide to go.

Anyway, coming back to the point...I feel deprived of my "ethnic" New Year! No traditional New Year = No money from elders! No one gives you money on 1st January :(

But thank God for the English calender. It makes life so much simpler to know when exactly it's time to celebrate!! :D


Moonshine said...

I quite like the idea of so many festivals.. i like it.. i dotn know if i know all local/ regional festivals.. but its fun.. i like festivals in general even though I may not follow all customs attached to each one!!!

The knife said...

isnt chhat pujo a Bihari festival. NY isn't that big with Bongs as Durga, Saraswati, Kali Pujos are bigger draws...but gives us an excuse to eat...if we need any. and an occassion to connect if you are part of a diaspora. NY is much bigger to Parsis as they don't have as many festivals I think

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - I like festivals b/c of the food, the general bonhomie & the fact that they're opportunities for the entire family to come together. But I find the rituals to be quite tedious.

@Knife - Chhath is celebrated widely in UP as well. The number of Pujos Bongs have is really amusing! No offence! Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Saraswati Puja, Lakhi Puja, Annapurna Puja...and they seem to worship goddesses only! Woman power, I say :)

The knife said...

yes not too many male pujos except perhaps bishokorma, kartik (very ltd) and shivrattri

the beauty of Bong rituals is that they are food centric