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The Land of Festivals’ — that is one sobriquet that this country has been bestowed with, and for all the right reasons. Through the years, the melange of cultures and communities here has given rise to a number of celebrations, be it through colourful clothes, rituals, songs and dances or cuisines. However, over time, the mode of celebrations has changed.

Effects of globalisation, long working hours, a fast-paced life and lack of interest in knowing the stories behind the festivals have led to traditions being left far behind. For many, festivals are now more of a day to take a break from work, relax in front of the television or socialise. Meanwhile, as another ‘Ganesha Chaturthi’ arrives, youngsters give a sneak peak into the new narrative and language of festivals.

An occasion to bond
Huma Farheen, a student from New Horizon College of Engineering, says that for many youngsters, festivals are the perfect occasion to break free from a mundane life.

“Many don’t celebrate it, they just sit at home. When there is an erosion of tradition, parents should tell their kids what festivals are and the stories behind them. This will also create family bonding at a time when youngsters hardly get time to be with their
parents and vice-versa.

Festivals are neatly packaged with traditions, mythology, stories about gods and goddesses and it should be so if we want to keep in touch with our culture and stay true to our roots.” 

A shopping expedition
Aamir, a student from CMR Institute of Management Studies, feels that festival days have become shopping days. “Earlier, people used to acknowledge the significance of festivals and celebrated them in all their traditional fervour. But today if you step into the malls and look around, it’s all obvious — it is a day for sales now. Online, websites are making the most of the occasion. From small-scale vendors to hi-fashion designers, festivals are about sales. Somewhere, the charm is lost.”

What’s up on WhatsApp?
Omar, a student from New Horizon College of Engineering, says that from the point of view of an in-house celebration and celebrating with the community, festivals are now nothing more than ‘WhatsApp’ or ‘Facebook’ greetings. “Festivals promote a sense of bonding and bring everyone together. Christmas gives out the message of charity and the philosophy of give-and-take. The roads lined up with stalls before Eid are a space to enjoy the festival together. All these have ceased to be so. The greetings and photographs on social media bring in a sense of ennui.”

When tourism booms...
Sana, a student of Mount Carmel College, feels that festivals are no longer rooted to the past. They have become opportunities to buy and sell. During festivals, cultural tourism too takes off and sometimes, in strange ways.
“Marketing campaigns to promote India are now revolving around major festivals, fairs and those events held at tourist hotspots. Organisers are always looking for new trends to explore and attract domestic and inbound tourists. Festivals, clearly, have a different meaning these days.”

A time for market watch!
Mahima, a student from Mount Carmel College, says that festivals have turned commercial. “We celebrate ‘Ganesha Chaturthi’ by bringing the idol home, performing ‘puja’ and then immersing it. Idols with themes have become expensive and a lot of money is spent on events and concerts which communities conduct in the name of the festival. There are also those who outsource idols and download ‘aartis’ and ‘prasads’ online.

Apart from sale tactics, brands and companies are cashing in on this trend in innovative ways like creating games and products during festivals. Also, international brands partner with Indian companies in the name of bringing alive Indian traditions.”

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