Everyone loves the festivities of a seasonal holiday. As we grow we also change the way we celebrate everything, Birthdays, holidays, special occasions and more. From where I come in India, we have two major festivals specific to the region. Though Christmas and Ramadan are also big events in my hometown, these two have a special role as they pertain only to the people in our state. One is the beginning of the New Year and other is the celebration of the homecoming of the mythical king Mahabali. Today apparently is the New Year in my home state Kerala in India and we call it Vishu.
I am not going to talk about Vishu as there is enough content on the web. I am more interested in exploring how our concept of celebration changes over the years. At least for me there was a significant change in the pattern of how I celebrated it. Fire crackers are a main theme in this festival and as small kids of 5 or 6 we are not allowed to use the crackers that burst and had to limit ourselves to using some very safe stuffs or stand far off and just watch. Bursting crackers are for the kids who might be 10 or so though I am not sure of the age limit as this decision is left to the respective parent’s discretion, 10 was probably what our mom set for us. In short as a kid of 6 my celebration was watching the crackers, see everyone else happy and look forward to see if I can convince to be old enough to burst them myself.
When I got to 10 you can assume that bursting crackers was the main celebration. Yes, but not just that, the process of buying crackers well ahead and then comparing it with friends on who has got what was an even bigger celebration. So the festivities start one or two months before the festival day. This is accompanied by fun adventures like sneaking some from the crackers prior to the day and going far off from home and bursting it all. Another interesting aspect was the ceremonial token cash that elders gave the younger ones. Finding close family and friends who are older than you and getting your share was a planned and well strategized sales activity, though most of it does not last till the day end.
Come Sixteen or so, probably I was out of the crackers love affair and I am not sure if I had anything specific at this time except for the token money you get and the holidays that you don’t have to study and just loiter aimlessly for no reason. This is an age of indifference and out the pack realization I guess. This probably continued till I started drinking while in college and then vishu and any festival holiday came with a booze party at both family and friends level. Time for enjoying some free booze and potential chances to rub shoulders with some older people in your family on a pseudo equal level and this enjoyment continued much after college though the free booze became paid booze once you start earning. But yes booze became a central theme of enjoyment and even the sound of bursting crackers were deafened amidst the high pitch drama songs and roars of the intoxicated youthfulness
All said there is a significant activity in this festival and that is the start of the festival day when you wake up early, close your eyes and walk over to a place where all the good things in life are kept and you open the eyes and see them. The idea is that you start the year by seeing everything good. Though this is a major activity, it never found significance in my list of to do celebration activities till probably I had my kids. Who the heck loves to wake up from a sound sleep and watch stuff when you have crackers waiting for you as a kid or when you have the last day’s booze still lingering in your mouth and hanging over your eyes as a youth? But now the whole dimension of Vishu celebration has apparently changed for me.
The fun part has become the Vishu Kani (that is what it is called in Malayalam) where I make it a point that I wake up first and then wake up my wife and then the kids. What can be more celebrating and rewarding than the hope that the New Year should bring all the best for your loved ones. The kids are all not that appreciative of this and also since there is no cracker business here in US and no holiday, life is as usual except for the early waking up. But I guess they will also go through a cycle and start growing in and out of interests as I did. But the good part is that one still has a few items to look forward during a festival. The food is not yet mentioned is always the bonus for the day.
Happy Vishu to all my Malayali friends!!!