Saturday, January 26, 2008

National Holidays...

This is a slightly rhetorical post - possibly a short one.

Just what is the significance of national holidays (Independence day, Republic day, Gandhi Jayanti etc.) in the present context?

I mean when we were younger I believe we 'celebrated' these with more gusto. And i'm not talking about the forced celebrations in school. Even at home, getting up early on Republic Day was a given as we had to see the parade on TV, the lovely floats and the cool oh-so-awesome fighter jets (They flew over my house in Delhi enroute to Janpath. We would rush outside on hearing their thunderous sound and rush back in to watch them do the fly past in the parade - very very cool).

Independence day though was more subdued as the elements that would appeal to a kid weren't there. However there were usually celebrations in our locality. Unfurling of the flag, a bit of a cultural show, lunch with all uncle aunties around.

Gandhi Jayanti was synonymous with Richard Attenborrough's Gandhi ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gandhi_%28film%29 ) on TV. Mom usually made some interesting lunch too (Incidently, my mom has some specific dishes for special occasions. For example, Diwali is always celebrated with chhole bhature (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chhole_bhature). in my household, Bhai dooj has namkeen sevai etc.

And now these festivals have deteriorated into mere holidays with no connotations attached to them. This morning I found myself flipping channels past the Republic Day parade which was earlier such an important part of the whole 26 January experience. Instead I idly moved to the cricket match in Adelaide, a Bruce Willis sappy movie called 'The Kid', a tennis match re-run etc etc. I stayed on the parade for exactly one minute and as soon as the 'President' got up to give bravery awards, I switched channels. As a kid, especially during the time 'Paramvir Chakra' used to come on TV on Sunday morning (I used to bring out my red plastic rifle while watching it :) ), this award giving ceremony used to be very emotional for me. I used to get moved a lot when they described the supreme sacrifices our soldiers made for us. But now I just casually flipped channels.

Gandhi Jayanti has also deteriorated with a lot of people I know being more worried about the fact that it is a dry day rather than any other reason (No, i'm not talking about me here...jeez, you guys...). 'Preparations' for the day begin a day in advance with friends calling each other up across cities warning them about it being a dry day (Again, NOT me and my friends... YOU shut up), and then adequate liquor is hoarded.

Independence day, I hardly see any celebrations in any colonies nearby - this could also be because I get up so late.

This is not a judgement call, just an observation, but it seems that we're celebrating Christmas and New Years way way more than these National days which are so much more significant in a country with a history like ours.

PS: On an attached note, I have been meaning to read a lot more about our independence struggle ever since I read Shashi Tharoor's 'The Great Indian Novel', but sadly I haven't done it. Seriously, when you read that book you get in awe of the tremendously larger than life leaders we had during those tumultuous days.

And then I look at our present President...

6 comments:

तुषार दीपक वर्मा said...

get hold of indias struggle for independence by bipin chandra.

deepti said...

guess what - yesterday, our HR distributed Gandhi caps, chaat and beer to celebrate this...er... 'dry day'!!! Afterall, we are not that left- brained, eh?

deepti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swapnil said...

Deepti: Beer? For republic day? What's the world coming to?!

Your HR has gone crazy, is all I can say...

raindrops said...

"...as an individual, we are becoming increasingly insensitive and callous."
Somewhere we find it convenient to be ignorant yet aware of the fact!
Posts like these and many other such things do jerk us for a while but then we just walk off....
Lets accept our hypocrisy!

Swapnil said...

Raindrops: We have no option but to accept the hypocrisy, its too deeply ingrained by now - acceptance doesn't mean you like it. And venting out is always good...