Friday, August 28, 2009

Today, What are you escaping from?

I walked out of office last night at around 8:30 PM and called for a rickshaw.

Bhai, we will have heavy traffic on the way. Today, it’s Ganesh Visarjan.”

“No problem. Have to go. Can’t help. Chalo.” I could hear painfully loud music on streets.

A few meters ahead, I saw a troupe with a Ganesh idol. It was a beautiful idol. I love the craftsmanship involved in making of these idols. Yesterday was the fifth day of Ganesh Mahotsav and in Mumbai it’s more than a festival. If I say its madness, It won’t be wrong.

But then madness about what? One case could be that these people are madly in love with this god and its time to rejoice about their love. To justify this I looked a little closer to their faces and listened carefully to sound of music. But I neither could see nor hear love. All I could find was a celebration of our escapist attitude. I felt that the dance was not for Ganesh but for them.

Ever wondered why do we have endless list of festivals in India? Can it be a reason behind us being escapists? Are we the people who need to run away into something else to suppress the boredom of routine life or to fight our sadness?

We celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi or Durga Pooja and dance to the tunes of “Bidi Jalaile jigar se piya… jigar ma badi aag hai”. We celebrate Diwali and loose ourselves in noise pollution from crackers. We celebrate Holi and cover our faces with loads of colors so that for at least one day no one can see our real faces.

I appear cynical about our festivals? Ok then. Lets check out some other mode. Say Bollywood? The biggest hits in our country are movies like Hum Apke Hain Kaun and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge and a Raincoat or Zakhm would be floored on the box office. Why? We love to watch happiness; grand, out of the world happiness. We enjoy this second hand happiness because we not only think but strongly believe that we can’t live that kind of happiness. We are genuinely sad people.

More arenas? Lets talk Cricket. We have proved ourselves as Cricket-crazy nation. The maximum watchers of this game in the world are from our country. But the best players of the world? Beyond a Sachin or Kapil Dev, no we can’t produce such people. That’s not our breed. We are the people who sit back and admire good things in life but are coward enough to try making it happen to our own life.

So the point is – we need a reason to be happy. We don’t think that our very existence in this world is a reason to happy. Our existence is so routine, so unimportant that we seek for some special occasion to be happy. And it has been routed in our society so deeply that if we find some genuinely happy person, we can go to the extent of calling him or her MAD. We need to be told by someone else that when can be happy. A Pundit says that Ganesh Chaturthi is on so and so date. We choose that as our date for happiness. A movie director decides that our country should be happy and makes an ultra stupid movie. We choose that as our medium of happiness. The match fixers decide who will play good in one particular match. We choose that as our reason for happiness.

And it’s not only that we fix our days of happiness. We also fix these days for “Cannot be Unhappy”.

I remember from my childhood days that my sister would always complain about me being sad on every Diwali. I could never understand the reason what used to happen and why. She would tell me, “Today is a day of happiness. Be happy.”

I believe that the festivals have the sole purpose of identifying an event, cause or issue. And it’s upon us how we associate with that day. So when I was told to behave in certain way on a certain day, I would always wonder how one can BE HAPPY if he is actually not feeling so, just because it’s a day that the society assumes it to be a day of happiness? Why can’t the day I choose to be happy be the day of my happiness? Why can’t all days of my life be the days of happiness?

And I still do not understand this.

The bigger pain point is – now I try to escape from the reasoning as, at times, its unavailability makes me sad and at other times, I am not too sure of its availability and authenticity. So from this context, everything that I said above remains an idea or a thought and not a logically or mathematically proved theorem. So, you can go ahead and celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi for the reason you want to. Even if the reason be an escape from something that you desperately want to.

Happy Ganesh Utsav!