While I was thinking about writing on fun traditions and rituals in my community, I thought of writing as an Indian first. After all, I am an Indian first and a part of a community later. However, rituals and traditions from the perspective of nationality were quite confusing, although we as Indians celebrate diversity and take part in every community’s festivals. So, I decided to write about my specific community, and rituals and traditions in Hinduism.
Hinduism is a religion of festivals and I mean it. Every few days, there’s an occasion and every person resets himself or herself to the same level of energy and excitement as the previous one. I will try to cover the three major festivals which I enjoy the most.
To kickstart, somewhere in the month of March, there comes Holi. Also popularly known as “the festival of colors,” Holi is celebrated across the country. People throw a vivid variety of colors on each other, and communal gatherings are accompanied by dance and well wishes. It is a huge celebration. A day before colors are used, Holika Dahan takes place, which basically signifies the triumph of good over evil. Being a huge country, there are various ways in which this festival is celebrated. In northern parts, along with the colors, the wife hits her husband with a stick and the husband gets a shield as protection. Holi is much more fun in my city, Nashik, which lies in the western part of the country. Here there are “Rahats,” which are shallow wells and are 200 to 300 years old. People dip their friends in these wells and there’s fun all over.
We then have Ganesh Chaturthi, which is more popular in the state of Maharashtra, also where I live. Ganpati, or Ganesh, is a Hindu god and he is the god of knowledge. Somewhere around September or October, clay idols of Lord Ganesh are brought home and kept for ten days, after which they are immersed in water. In 1893, freedom fighter and social reformer Bal Gangadhar Tilak proposed the idea of having a common Ganpati for a society. We were under British rule until 1947, and Tilak started this in order to unite people and initiate communal gatherings to fight back against the British rule. In olden times, there were special idols for every house. Now, we have special ones and communal celebrations too. “Mandals,” or groups of people living in the same place, have a common celebration among themselves. A variety of competitions and activities are hosted by societies. Apart from painting and cooking contests, there are dramas and cultural events. There’s music, dance, and huge processions on the last day of “Visarjan.” Traditional “Dhol Pathaks,” or music groups, perform and make it all more joyous.
The last festival I will discuss and my personal favourite is Diwali. The “festival of lights,” Diwali, too, is celebrated as the virtue of good over evil. After some rituals or “puja,” we get out on the streets and burst firecrackers. Evidence of firecrackers in celebration of the festival have been found that date back 700 years. Also, evidence of fireworks are found in the writings of Gajapti Prataprudradeva and Saint Eknatha. As a part of the celebration, we light up “diyas,” or oil lamps, and a variety of dishes are prepared. The whole family comes together to prepare those dishes and cooking together is fun. Also, cousins come over and it is like a cherry on the cake. There are positive vibes everywhere and yes, there’s fun too.
These activities fulfill dual objectives. First, they help make age-old traditions enjoyable. Second, these traditions and rituals are carried forward generation to generation, mostly because they are so much fun. The fun in these traditions has helped them stay alive and generated my interest in celebrating them.
Aditya Naik is 13 years old and in the ninth grade. He enjoys writing and likes to read a lot. He is part of his school’s badminton team and enjoys playing with his friends.
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