Bharatiya Way to Celebrate the New Year
“Dosto countdown begins on 31st…Kesi he tayyari..!!” This was the heading of this photo on the Face book wall of a teenager. I was stunned by this. One may feel that it is old-fashioned to be surprised by such a normal modern practices. Does not matter, if being modern is what this photo represents, we should happy to be old-fashioned. This is what happens when one imitates without any thought. In Hindi we call it “Akal ke bina Nakal”. Past few years’ westernization has been marketed as modernization. This has led to a very comical situation. It does not pose any serious challenge to the Bharatiya Samskriti as these are only the external things. But when it comes to such vices as drinks, drugs and sex that is a real threat not just because it is some foreign fad. In fact it is a great cause of concern in the western societies also.
This is the result of market being the vehicle for Civilisational assault. The interaction between the two confronting civilization is not on the same footing. The aggressive marketing of superficial goods tries to change the purchasing pattern and civilization is just used as a means. Some cards and gift company wanted to increase its sales and introduced many new days for celebrations. ‘New Year’ is one such marketed celebration. This has gained currency in last 2 decades. But it did not remain at just the marketing of greeting cards and gifts. As it always happens the worst of the aggressive civilization gets the most attention. We are not adopting the discipline, punctuality, hygiene, work culture or the civic sense of the west. There we are preserving our own old colonial ways of functioning. But in the name of westernization we are adopting just the junk of that civilization. This is the danger. This needs to be taken head-on.
The concept of New Year is not new to Bharat. We have been celebrating New Year for ages. All the states have their best festivals at the time of their own new calendar year. Be it Bishu for Kerala or Bihu for Assom or Baisakhi for Punjab these are New Year celebrations. For Gujrathis and Bengalis it is the Diwali time that is New Year. Most parts celebrate New Year on the first day of Hindu Lunar calendar the Pratipada of Chaitra masa. It is called as Varsha Pratipada. But we have diverse names for this day Gudhi Padwa in Maharashtra, Ugadi in Andhra. The Sindhis celebrate Chetichand on the same day. One can not tell when it all started. It has survived the thousands of years of attacks by alien armies, religions and cultures. This has survived the brutal conversion and Jizia regime in the Mugal period and also the mental slavery brought about by the colonial education of the British raj.
One of the main reasons of survival of these New Year festivals is that they are related to the happy times of that region. These are the economically most prosperous days of the year for those regions. Mostly due to Agriculture. It is the time of the year when the produce is in the market and hence it is the time to celebrate. But it is not just that. The season is also very happy season with flowers blooming and the entire atmospheric ambience to inspire the mind for higher achievements. There are more subtle reasons also. These days are the Shubh Muhurtas, auspicious celestial arrangements. This is related to the Pranic flow in the atmosphere. Due to the peculiar gravitational arrangement of the planets the flow of Prana in particular moment is suitable for noble acts. These are called as Muhurtas. There is a science behind it. Everyday there are some virtuous periods like these. All the three Sandhya, period if confluence, the pratah sandhya in the early morning when sun has not yet risen physically but the light has come, the Madhyanha or midday sandhya with sun on the head and the Sayam, evening sandhya when the sun is set but the last light lingers on, are all the best times to do the spiritual practices. According to the astrological calculations some days are totally auspicious. They are considered as full Muhurta. Varsh Pratipada, Vijaya Dashami and the Pratipada after Diwali night are three full auspicious days when 24 hours are good for noble acts. The Pranic flow in these times helps the actions to be more productive.
Sadly the New Year time by the Gregorian calendar, which has a very interesting history, ( http://www.infoplease.com/spot/gregorian1.html ) comes in one of the two most inauspicious or vicious periods of the year. The fortnight before Navratri is the Shraddha Paksha, period to pay tributes to our ancestors. In this period no other auspicious acts are performed except Shraddha. The month before Makar Sankranti is considered as Mala-Masa or the dirty month. Nothing auspicious is planned. It is the last period of the southern cycle of the sun, Dakshinayana. Even the economic activity like purchasing gold or new property is deferred to the Uttarayana. This suit the Bharatiya region as it is in the northern hemisphere. Those in the southern hemisphere may have their own auspicious times.
The most important principle that emerges out of above discussion is that there can not be Globalization of “New Year” celebrations. Bharat being such a vast country we have different New Year’s celebrations within the same Dharmic society. This is because Hindus celebrate diversity. We do not want every one to be regimented in one form of worship or festivals. The festivals should be localized rather than globalized.
But all said and done, we will see all the dirty reflections of western ways tonight. In the name of celebrations all the vices will be set free. One may lament but one can not dam the flow of time. But we can think and bring about modifications to the methods of celebration. This is the way to assimilate alien culture. Take the good things and adapt it according to your own way. As all of us are using the international calendar for our day-to-day purpose, change of the year is an event for all of us. Indians being the lovers of festivity they would definitely like to celebrate any change. We will have to change the diary, calendar in our office for practical reasons tomorrow. So it is futile to ask people not to celebrate the New Year just because it is not our own. We must not forget our own New Year and should adopt some new ways like greeting cards, sms, mails etc on those days also. At the same time we must adapt our own ways to celebrate the New Year on 1st January.
End of any period in our life is a time for introspection. Our own Birth Day is one such occasion, same is true of 31st December. This is an occasion for introspection. What was our progress in the whole year. Progress has to be in relation to our goal of life. So personally as well as collectively we should introspect on our achievements, shortcomings, mistakes and faults. This should be done positively with a view to improve upon the same in the coming year. One collective activity on the eve of New Year can be paying homage to all the Martyrs of Military and Para- Military forces who laid their life for the security of the Nation. This can be our way of paying our respect. 31st December can be dedicated to these brave-hearts. This can be done in the colonies, at public parks. We need not worry about the names of the martyrs etc. We can keep the picture of Bharatmata and do collective Pooja, worship to pay our homage to her brave sons. ‘Bharat Mata Pujan’ can be our Bharatiya way to Celebrate the 31st December.
Another improvement in New Year celebration can be celebrating it at the Sunrise on the 1st January rather than at the mid night. We can blow conches and other auspicious instruments to welcome our functional New Year. We can perform some small Pooja of the instruments that we use the whole year, especially those used to measure time such as watches, clocks, calendars etc. This can follow by taking a resolution (Sankalpa) for the whole year. This Sankalpa can be based on our introspection. This can be our target of the coming year in our journey towards our Goal of life.
In the Ramkrishna-Vivekaananda circle 1st January is celebrated as “Kalpataru Divas” to commemorate the shower of Divine Grace, blessed by Shri Ramkrishna Paramhansa on his devotees on 1st January 1886. It is documented by those present on the historic occasion that all their spiritual wishes were fulfilled by mere glance or touch of the great Guru. (More about this Tomorrow)
Let us use this occasion to restore the scientific ways of Hindu Culture in a manner suitable to the present times. Let this be one more addition to our long list of Festivals. The Global celebration with a local touch.