Saturday, 4 October 2014

Impact of Festivals on Social Strata: Festival from Around the World –Part II


“You must be the change you wish to see in the world”, Mahatma Gandhi
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading”, Lao Tzu

Be clear about festivals and their importance
Most of change in society depends on festivals. If you inspect that cauldron called customs, you will see culture has a big list of which festivals is an important item. People are choosy and therefore we have festivals that are time based and those that are based on culture and tradition.

Another way to categorise festivals is to put them in this fashion.
a)   Traditional festival
b)  Celebration
Here we see some seasonal festivals. You can treat it as a celebration or as a tradition of the people.

Seasonal festivals
a)   Planting of crops (Harvest of crops): Most celebrations around the world, celebrate their annual harvest by giving thanks to the gods. Timing for this is usually set by the Harvest Moon, which is the full moon occurring when Autumnal Equinox sets in. Music, merriment, romance and of course, plenty of food accompanies these celebrations. It goes by the name of Harvest Festival in America and European countries, Holi, Vaisakhi, Makar Sankranti or Thai Pongal in India, and Mid-Autumn Festival in China. In Philippines, we have Flores de Mayo, in Malaysia and Indonesia, the Gawai Dayak, eight-day festival of Sukkot for the Jewish people. Japan has Koshogatsu ushering in the New Year and falls around 15th of January.


b)  Onset of rains
a.    Vietnam: Palau Sah is the rain festival of Vietnam. Calculation is based on lunar calendar and falls around 16th May. People worship the agricultural god and pray for more rains.
b.   Bergen, Norway: Rain Festival is conducted every year in Bergen, Norway in October. High point is the parade through the town of Bergen, “Raincoat and Umbrella Parade”. This festival no longer takes place according to latest reports.
c.    Haritilaka Teej: Celebrated during the onset of monsoons, this is celebrated by married women. The Indian Cobra is worshipped by offering it milk.
d.   Onam: “God’s Own Country”, Kerala celebrates Onam with ten-day feasting, annual snake boat races, song, dance and merriment. Amazing floral arrangements are part of this celebration.
e.    Adiperukku: During mid-July August, women of Tamilnadu celebrate Adiperukku.
f.     Behdienkhlam: Monsoon celebration of Meghalaya is Behdienkhlam. Young men dance in muddy water to drive away evil spirits. This takes place in month of July.


c)   Onset of winter and summer
a.    Jul, Norse New Year: This 12-day celebration marks the beginning of the Norse New Year. Odin charges across the sky on his eight legged horse and represent hope and fervor.
b.   Thurseblot: This takes place in honour of Thor who drives back winter so that spring may set in. It occurs on the full moon of January.
c.    Ostara: Eostara is the spring goddess representing fertility and rejoicing. Rabbit is the representative animal. Two festivals that have found their way to modern times are the Easter Bunny and the Easter egg. Exchanging colored eggs was a part of celebrations of Ostara.
d.   Midsummer: Summer solstice is celebrated to mark the sun at its peak. This was the time for overseas trading, hunting and fishing.
e.    Samhain: Beginning of Celtic dark half one of the two doors of the year. Winter sets in and people begin to slaughter animals in preparation.
f.     Beltane: The beginning of the Celtic bright half or summer. Samhain and Beltane are considered male.
g.   Imboic: This falls on Feb 1 between the two doors. This is female.
h.   Lughnasadh (or Lammas): This is the other female forming fourth quarter for the year.

Festivals inspire people
We have to strive to be there. It is like a stream that is flowing; though there is water always, it is not the same. Something has changed. We do not order events for they are passages of time that we sometimes want or need to tread. Festivals need participation, like the dress we wear. Unless you are in it, they have no use to you. Every door is closed, until you open it. If you do not want to cross over to the other side, you will never look for the door, and it will remain shut, possibly for the rest of your life.

Bring the cheer into life
Festivals have one common goal, betterment of mankind and womankind. By giving a reason for people to be happy, you have given them new impetus in life. And you do not choose the festivals, they just happen.

Achievement is a personal thing. If you keep comparing your life to that of others, you will never be a success. If you know what you were and are willing to change, then you will get ahead much faster and in a better manner. 

Give festivals importance and you will enjoy them more
Festivals thus make society a better place to live in. it breaks down barriers and builds up bonds. All over the world, this rule holds good. If your town has more festivals, it is a progressive one and you have to be glad you are part of it all.