Over the years, as modernization and globalization has taken over our country and every single action has become monetized, the true significance of the festivals has become stagnant. Back in time festivals were more inclusive and even people with limited means could join in and enjoy the festivities. As with everything else the passage of time, the advent of globalization and a roaring economy has caused an impingement on the direction of our festivals celebrations today.

Today, people have better pay and can afford to enjoy the luxury of buying new apparel, gadgets, etc. Throughout the year rather than wait for the festivals to make such purchases. Festivals have today become a time to show off from wealth. They have become more self-focused and have moved off from the tradition. It is more about instant gratification now. The traditional means of festivals, celebrations is slowly taking a backseat today. The elementary things that would give us pleasure in celebrating festivals back then no longer enthuse us now.

It is not only the commercialization and modernization that should be blamed for losing charm of festivals. There are other numerous reasons behind them. In the past people used to live in joint families and the charm of celebrating the festivals in joint families is entirely different compared to the nuclear type of families. Moreover, the chief occupation of the citizenry in those days was farming and Cultivation. Besides, most of the matters they needed to keep the festivals were cheaply and locally available, still within their home itself.

The 4-5 centuries of poverty changed the original ways. But today, people are not able to sync their rhythm with the tune around and in the mad race, the meaning of festivals has reduced to just a holiday when we can binge on web series all night with no pressure of waking up early the next morning. Celebrations have taken a modern garb and McDonald beckons to us on festivals. With the passage of time, the dawn of liberalization and a booming economy have had a bearing on the way of our festival celebrations today. Festivals have become a time to flaunt our riches and splurge away the money so as to be in an invisible competition with the society.

The celebrations have become more self-centered. Money equals happiness. For more money, we need to work more. It won’t come as a surprise to find people working on festivals rather than spending quality time with their families. Diwali, the festival of lights, which is the most important festival for the Hindus — marks the beginning of a new year and is believed to be a celebration of victory of good over evil. Hence, it is considered an auspicious and joyous occasion. Diwali has been celebrated in India for eons. However, with changing times, the ways of celebrations have changed as well. The way our parents and their parents used to celebrate Diwali isn’t the same way that we do. There has been a transition. The age-old clay ‘diyas’ have been replaced with electric diyas and candles with fairy lights. Music was earlier played on radios and DVDs and today the DJ’ system can be seen trending all over. Unfortunately, in present times, Diwali has also seen an increase in the number of people who burst crackers. The teens especially are very enthusiastic about it. When the word Diwali strikes, the things that come to us are a lot of guests, heavy and handsome gifts, new and the costliest crockery for the comers and fireworks. Coming back to square one, traditional ways of doing pooja, reading out religious books and doing the traditional aarti has taken a backseat now.

TRANSFORMATION IN FESTIVALS WITH TIME:

With time the rituals associated with the festivals have not changed much. People have the same beliefs that they have gained from their ancestors. Also, not only the people living in villages believe in these legends but even the people living in big cities believe in these legends and do the needful rituals associated with every festival.

MAKAR SANKRANTI:

The people still consider it as a cycle for the onset of new crops and celebrate it with the fullest of rituals associated with it. They gather together and play various games. They still consider it as an auspicious day to buy expensive goods. It comes in the month of Magh. Basant or Vasant, means ‘ Spring’, and Makara is the equivalent of Capricorn. Makar Sankranti is considered to be a major festival of the followers of Hinduism. As per astrological beliefs, the day on which the Sun enters Capricorn zodiac sign is known as Makar Sankranti. Sankranti means the transit of the Sun from one zodiac sign to another. Since it is transiting in the Capricorn zodiac sign, it is known as Makar Sankranti.

This festival is mainly celebrated in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc. Makar Sankranti is known by different names in different parts of the country. On one hand, the day is celebrated as Lohri in Punjab and other north Indian states while on the other, it is known by the name of Magh or Bhogali Bihu in Assam.

LEGENDS ASSOCIATED WITH MAKAR SANKRANTI:

This festival has been given religious and cultural significance.

  1. As per mythological beliefs, Lord Sun goes to the house of his son, Saturn (Shani Dev) on the day of Makar Sankranti. In astrology, Saturn is considered to be the ruling lord of Capricorn and Aquarius.
  2. The second legend associated with this festival, Lord Vishnu destroyed the demons on earth and made people free from their terror. He cut off the heads of the demons and buried them on Mandra Parvat. It is believed that the victory of Lord Vishnu began to be celebrated as Makar Sankranti festival since then.
  3. Also some people believe that Bhishma Pitamah decided to sacrifice his body on the day of Makar Sankranti.
  4. As per the legends prevailing with this festival, Gangaji followed Bhagiratha and reached the ocean by passing through the Ashram of Kapil Muni on the day of Makar Sankranti. Therefore, taking a bath in Ganga holds immeasurable significance on this day. The day is also considered to bring a change in atmosphere and some warmth is also felt. Then, there is the beginning of summer after spring.
  5. One of other beliefs associated with Makar Sankranti is that gods appear on earth on this day and take a bath in Ganga. Therefore, taking a bath in Ganga on this very day holds special significance.

RITUALS ASSOCIATED WITH MAKAR SANKRANTI:

  1. The sign of Makara—a creature with the head and forelegs of an antelope and body and tail of a fish—is the emblem of Kandarp, or Kama, the god of love, who likewise receives adoration on this occasion, along with his spouse Rati, the goddess of love, and Lakshmi.
  2. The Vasant Rag, or ‘Spring Song’ is sung and its special virtue is said to be the giving of an impulse to the emotions of love and merriment.
  3. Food is coloured with saffron, and yellow clothes are worn to represent the appearance of the Spring crops, also a nautch is considered seasonable. In some places the cattle have their horns painted and decorated, and they are given a well-earned holiday.
  4. The sun is said to begin his journey northward by entering Capricorn, so he is worshipped, and there are enormous gatherings to bathe at Prayag (Allahabad), where the Ganges and Jumna become united, and at Ganga Sagar, where the Ganges enters the bosom of the ocean (sagar), the former fair is well known by the name of Magh Mela.
  5. People gather together and play various games and show their joy of festivals through them. It is considered that auspicious works like marriage, home entrance, buying a new vehicle, building a house, buying a house, Mundan etc. start taking place with the transit of the Sun in Capricorn. Besides this, performing a donation holds immeasurable significance on this very day. One who donates as per his/her financial ability, is blessed with auspicious fruits.

MAHA SHIVRATRI:

People are huge devotees of lord Shiva even today and this festival is celebrated with full zeal and enthusiasm though it being the one of fasting. Elders, children and every individual have a huge respect for Shiva in their hearts and follow the rituals of bathing the linga with their pure soul. Lord Shiva is one of the most worshipped deities as he is a integral part of the Hindu Trinity, the day celebrated in his honour is known as Sheoratri, Siva-Ratri, or Mahasiva Ratri, this is-a fast observed on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of Phalgun. It means the ‘Night of Siva ‘ and the ceremonies take place chiefly at night.

LEGENDS ASSOCIATED WITH SHIVRATRI:

  1. One of the most popular legends states that Siva-Ratri is the day of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati’s wedding.
  2. While some say that on this divine night of Shivaratri, the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction ‘The Tandava’ was performed by Lord Shiva.
  3. In another legend, derived from the Linga purana says that this night Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Therefore, making this day immensely auspicious for devotees of Lord Shiva and this night is celebrated as Maha shivaratri – the grand night of Shiva.

RITUALS ASSOCIATED WITH SHIVRATRI:

Devotees of Lord Shiva have various customs and rituals related to the festival of Shivaratri to show their devotion. Benares is a stronghold of Siva worship, and there the fast and other rites are performed with great solemnity.

  1. Various types of fast are religiously followed, some fast with a diet of milk and fruits while others observe ‘Nirjala upvas’ or ‘water less fast’ where water is also not consumed.
  2. On this auspicious festival devotee’s wake up early, take a bath, don new clothes and visit a Shiva temple to perform an ‘abhisheka’ or ‘ritual bath’ of Shiva Lingam with milk, honey, water etc. Lord Shiva is worshipped day and night on Shivaratri. Shiva Lingam is bathed with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water every three hours amongst the chanting of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ringing of temple bells.
  3. Before breaking the fast in the morning Brahmans should be fed in memory of the stranger and the following prayer should be said, ‘Oh Shankar’ (Peace-Giver) Siva! My beautiful Lord, be propitiated with this my fast, which has the effect-of burning the ties of this world. Grant me the eye of knowledge.”

Festive celebrations have always been celebrated enthusiastically since the early days. These dates back to the ancient times of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Although the ways of celebration would be different from the modern mode of celebrations. We have historical blueprints and evidence which reveals the importance of observance of each and every festival. There has been a huge difference in the way our forefathers used to celebrate festivals and today’s time how we celebrate the festival. Earlier, people used more natural things for decorations, cooking etc. But, over time, we have indulged in using artificial ingredients for the things to look extravagant.

 

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