Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I had lost interest in festival celebrations long time ago. Ever since I came to Vidarbha, the joy that a festival brings surely has made me think about how contrasting life can be, when farmers’ suicide grabs the headlines of newspapers while the world is celebrating with no worries at all. Splurging money, wearing new clothes, eating sweets and greeting each other of all the happiness seems to me so hollow... not that I am against any festival celebrations... but life can be so cruel when the loved ones are snatched away by God, silent tears grip the whole families and in their heartening ears the sound of celebration all around... well, pain is more powerful and reality of our lives while happiness lives for a very short while that is so-so illusionary.

Whether the world agrees to my perspective or not, really doesn’t matter at all as each individual is free to live one’s life the way one wants. But each time the year long festival in India is celebrated I really wonder, are we really happily celebrating these festivals? Can we really escape all the pains with this momentary happiness? During Navratri celebration as you all know I went into a hopeless state of depression because of farmers’ suicide all over Vidarbha... so when Diwali arrived I had decided to stay away from the celebration mood and also avoid the sound of crackers and pollution.

I headed to a remote village Naigaon (Bk) in Yavatmal, where my friend Anupama invited me to spend few days with her family in a peaceful ambience. When I headed from Wardha on the Diwali day, sound of crackers had already disturbed the serenity of the small town city. When I reached the village, the ambience was so-so contrasting as peace prevailed all over with really no sign of Diwali being celebrated. Yes, as a daily ritual every villager had made beautiful colourful rangoli in front of their homes. Naigaon (Bk) is one of the well-to-do villages of Vidarbha because alternative jobs opportunities are in plenty because of WCL and other industries in the vicinity.

A village woman making rangoli

What really appealed me about the village’s atmosphere was the sensibility of the villagers and especially the youth. Unlike city youth, the youth spend time in the evening with group discussions and have refrained not to burst crackers to pollute the atmosphere and disturb others with loud explosive noise. When I interacted with them during my stay in the village, they told me that since the last ten years, they prefer to spend good time eating sweets, do puja at home and spend the evening discussing and interacting with each other rather than waste their money on silly crackers. The 350 odd families of this village with an approximate population of 1500 to 1800 in majority are well-to-do and the unity in the village to make their village the cleanest in Yavatmal District was possible only because the women and youth joined hands to show to the world that villages in India are much cleaner than Mumbai city. The village also boast to be the first village in the state of Maharastra to have underground sewerage system because of one’s man’s vision and support of the whole villagers. Naigaon (Bk) village is also sans any illicit liquor shops because of women’s power, which made sure a healthy future for the young and old villagers without indulging in liquor addiction.

Very few houses used decorative lights in the villages, sound of crackers were heard in one’s and two’s, but yes, rangoli and earthen diyas made every small house look so-so beautiful in the serene ambience. Goddess Laxmi was worshipped in every house and it was more a family affair. Youth mostly who are studying in various cities pursuing higher education came home to spend a sweet and peaceful Diwali at home with family members was one of the major highlights of Naigaon (Bk). I was very impressed as I spend a peaceful Diwali at my friend’s home and interacting with various village farmers, youth and kids... my first Diwali in Vidarbha was just perfect, sound-free and so-so peaceful...

Yes if we want, we can and we will – that is what the small village in Vidarbha taught me! However, such beautiful realities will never be covered in the media... sad, isn’t it???

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