With this time of year, the end quarter, comes several festivals in the USA and around the globe. What do you think of when the holidays in October, November and December roll around? Does it present a dizzying array of demands — parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, or a time of family and friends, thankfulness, reuniting, smiling, good food, laughing, and happiness. Unfortunately, even in our modern society, with so many conveniences unheard of long ago, many people associate the holidays with stress, overeating and running up bills.
There are many types of festivals in the world and most countries create celebrations around important cultural events, traditions and different social activities, such as harvesting. Most festivals include consumption of specially prepared food (-showing the connection to “feasting”), and they bring people together. Many festivals have been turned into national holidays.
It does not have to be a time that drains one’s energy and emotions, or seen as just a few days during which we don’t have to go to work. Sadhguru explains the significance of festivals and how to even make life itself a celebration.
Sadhguru: In the Indian culture, there was a time when there used to be a festival every day of the year – 365 festivals in a year – because a festival is a tool to bring life to a state of exuberance and enthusiasm. That was the significance and importance of festivals. The whole culture was in a state of celebration. If today was ploughing day, it was a kind of celebration. Tomorrow was planting day, another kind of celebration. Day after tomorrow was weeding, that was a celebration. Harvesting, of course, is still a celebration. But in the last 400 or 500 years, poverty has come to our country, and we have not been able to celebrate every day. People are satisfied if they just get some simple food to eat.
So, all the festivals fell away and only 30 or 40 festivals remain. We are not even able to celebrate those now because we must go to the office or do something else daily. So, people usually celebrate only around 8 or 10 festivals annually.
Nowadays, unfortunately, a festival means they give you a holiday, and you wake up only at twelve noon. Then you eat a lot and go for a movie or watch television at home. It wasn’t like that earlier. A festival meant the whole town would gather in a place and there would be a big celebration. A festival meant we got up at four in the morning, and very actively, lots of things happened all over the house.
To bring back this culture in people, Isha celebrates four important festivals: Pongal or Makarasankranti, Mahashivratri, Dussehra and Diwali. If we don’t create something like this, by the time the next generation comes, they will not know what a festival is. They will just eat, sleep and grow up without concern for another human being. All these aspects were brought into Indian culture just to keep a man active and enthusiastic in so many ways. The idea behind this was to make our whole life into a celebration.
If you approach everything in a celebratory way, you learn to be non-serious about life but absolutely involved. The problem with most human beings right now is, if they think something is important, they will become dead serious about it. If they think it is not so important, they will become lax about it – they don’t show the necessary involvement. You know, in India when someone says, “He is in a very serious condition,” that means his next step is you know where. A lot of people are in a serious condition. There is only one thing that is going to happen to them which is of any significance. The rest will bypass them because with anything that they think is not serious, they are unable to show involvement and dedication towards that. That is the whole problem. The passage, the secret of life is to see everything with a non-serious eye, but be absolutely involved – like a game. That is the reason the most profound aspects of life are approached in a celebratory way, so that you don’t miss the point.