The Social Aspect of Festivals

By The Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

 In few days Indians will dive into celebrations of the most awaited festival of the year. People are busy buying cloth, gifts, cars, jewelry for the festival of light, though Diwali is a time to be with family and festivities are mainly limited to near and dear ones but yet there are many in our society who have no one to turn to in grief or happiness.

 Recently, I saw photographs of widows living in Meera Sahbhagini Ashram in Vrindaban playing colors on Holi, defying the stigma. Originating mainly from Bengal and Orissa, these widows were left on streets after the demise of their husbands, family members often in order to avoid sharing property turn their backs on a hapless woman. A widow, if she is young, is often held responsible for death of husband and is expected to live in continuous mourning which in many cases lead to banishment, abuse and ridicule from society. Rules are invented and imposed which are no where mentioned in the religious texts. Life can be cruel sometimes and yet these brave souls cherish few moments of happiness the life sends their way.

 It could be an orphanage near your neighborhood, a homeless shelter, a soup kitchen, food pantry or an old age home, you could be follower of any faith from any country or city, the point is to extend the joy of festivals to those who don’t have that privilege. Though many people are aware of their responsibilities towards society and they do within their reasonable capacity to help others out but for a lot of Indians, charity on festive occasions means simply means donating at or outside temple. I am not saying this is wrong but we should also think about giving support to NGOs, social organizations who are working in areas like education, environment, healthcare to underprivileged etc., by no means it’s less meritorious than giving alms. Even if you cannot spend money, you can still devote your time and expertise by volunteering. I remember reading a case where housewives came together to visit old age homes to meet and talk to seniors who are abandoned by their families or have no relative to support them, these women visit couple of times a week to spend time with these elders, talk to them, listen to them. It doesn’t sounds like a lot but it mattered a lot to those elderlies that someone was there for them.

 I myself find it hard but still we should at least try sometimes to put ourselves in others shoes, what would you have expected if were in his or her position. We wish you a very happy festive season ahead.


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