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The righteous role of rituals

By Kalpana Komal October 27, 2019

Happy Diwali!

For most people rituals are sacrosanct. Take an everyday morning ritual for example. For some it is waking up early, going for yoga or a run. For me, it is drinking a cup of tea and scrolling through social media. OK, before you judge me. First of all, I go for yoga AFTER my tea and social media fix. Also, I drink a super healthy Orange detox green tea from Teamonk, if you must know.

But the reason I write this blog is inspired only partly by tea. And partly by what I have been reading on my social media feed, thanks to my morning ritual. While some people and brands are wishing people clean, green, smoke-free Diwalis, per seasonal correctness, others (the brave/foolish ones, you decide) are complaining about how Diwali doesn’t feel the same at all without the sounds and smokes of fireworks starting early morning waking everyone up at 4 am like the good old days. And what’s more, a LOT of people are ‘liking’ and agreeing with these posts.

Now, I get it. Fireworks and sounds and smoky roads were the norm when we were kids. We didn’t need alarm clocks to wake up on Diwali morning (or night, which is what I consider 4 am). We had to make sure our feet and new clothes were not burned by stray sparks flying askew, or have our hair catch fire by a rogue rocket. And despite all precautions, I have seen all of these happen growing up. Ah memories!

But should we continue with these rituals if they no longer contribute to the larger good? Is it ok to stick to rituals simply because it has been so for a long time, ignoring that the air is dangerously unbreathable in some places (think Delhi). Now, is breathing really that important? Or are rituals?

There was a time until the fifties when pregnant women smoked and nobody thought it was anything to worry about. Because nobody knew any better. Would it be ok to encourage the same now that we know what harm cigarettes are causing human beings, let alone, an unborn fetus? I think I’ve made my point.

Rituals and habits only serve us well as long as they ‘serve us well’. Like yoga in the morning. There is yet a study to confirm that yoga might adversely induce climate change. When the effects of a ritual can be seen, smelt, felt and coughed up, should we still dig our heels in and complains about ‘Oh, Diwali isn’t what it used to be’? I mean, yeah, it certainly isn’t what it used to be. It is now better!

We can now drive on the roads on Diwali without worrying about a random cracker bursting in front of us, animals don’t go running for shelter utterly traumatized by the sounds of firecrackers, we can still eat sweets and light up our homes, wear new clothes that will not be burnt in unseemly places, and we can still breathe! Now this is what I call moving into light from darkness, which is what Diwali is all about. So let us make some new healthy rituals, drink some tea and have a Happy Diwali!

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