Celebrating tradition, celebrating what counts the most

Have you ever thought why do we celebrate various days at all? Living in the high-tech world, what could be the reason we find these old celebrations so appealing?

The real reason is eternal and universal: we celebrate those entities that give meaning to our lives. The festivities are a way to remember and respect what makes life beautiful and worth living.

That’s why living in the era of buying takeaway or ready-to-cook food, we still celebrate Makar Sankranti, Lohri or Pongal.

  • Why are they allcelebrated in the winter?

During the early days of our civilisation, planting crops for food was one of the most important tasks. And winter put all vegetation to sleep. The atmosphere turned gloomy and the early humans had to struggle to survive the harsh cold time.

The early man then started to take note of the length of the day. This revealed that on a certain day during the winter, the night reaches her longest hours. And this was the same day after which the duration of light and day started to elongate. This seemed like the day of the return of the summer, the friendlier, easier time of the year. Hence, throughout the world, Winter Solstice is celebrated in various forms.

  • The reaping of new crops

Makar Sankranti marks the reaping of the new crops throughout India. So when we celebrate the season with Makar Sankranti SMS, we take part in one of the oldest celebrations of India: the harvest festivities. Generally, Indian farmers reap their Rabi crops during this time of the year. The common rituals include food items and confectionaries cooked with the new crops.

  • The Lohri and the harvest

True, Lohri doesn’t fall on the Winter Solstice day. Rather it is celebrated on the last day of the month in which Winter Solstice falls. Originally, Lohri marked the solstice. As winter solstice and harvest days were celebrated as one composite festival, Lohri has become the harvest festival through the ages.

The bonfire during Lohri is a warm reminder of the time when our ancestors celebrated the survival through yet another winter and the triumphof the new harvest. Next time, you get a Lohri SMS on January 14, 2015, spend a moment feeling wonderful about the victory of life over winter’s harsh treatments.

  • A celebration of ‘overflow’

The ancient Tamils dreamt of a harvest that would ‘overflow’ fulfilling everyone’s needs. When the new harvest ripened despite winter’s trials, the entire community came together to celebrate with dishes that, literally ‘overflowed’ while boiling. ‘Pongal’ meaning ‘overflow’ is an apt name for the harvest festivities. Today, when you send a Pongal SMS, you take part in a celebration that has been a part of Indian culture for more than a millennium.

We may not feel strongly connected with these harvest ceremonies and there are reasons for not feeling the pull, as well. But we cannot deny their significance in our lives and our involuntary urges to be a part of the festivities.

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