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Pockets of Memories, Baskets of Happiness
Festivals have a timeline, memories don’t. Festivals have always been a reason for celebrations and happiness. Moments of joyous occasions giving way to nostalgic memories to be revered and enjoyed forever. I am glad to have been given an opportunity of travelling to four different cities to study across different parts of the world and to have lived the sort of life one see’s only in movies and theatres through S P Jain School of Global Management. The naïve way of looking at festivals is to see them as a ritual performed year after year for the sake of it, and the other way would be to look at them as a way to rekindle old memories and create fresh ones.
From the running of the bulls in Spain, the White Night festival in Russia, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico, festival of colors and lights in India, the lantern Festival from the Chinese New Year and other such carnivals around the world all have one thing in common. It’s the union of strangers and reunion of friends and family to be together and celebrate the joy of life using the occasion as a sheer purpose.
On my travels from one place to another, I’ve come across various carnivals in each of the different cultures and the fascinating stories behind the reason for its celebration. While studying in Singapore, I came across the Chinese New Year for the first time in my life. Having celebrated Diwali & Holi in India, I was new to the traditions of the lantern festival. Went on to learn about the different Zodiac signs existing in the lunar calendar and came to terms and acceptance with it, to be born in the year of Pig. The streets of Singapore filled with lanterns and sounds of laughter coming out of tiny alleys were a sight to witness and cherish.
Dubai, known for its vibrancy and multi-cultural ethnicity was a different ball-game altogether. Apart from the religious festivals like Ramadan which is carried out with great reverence and grace, Dubai caters to a very unique range of celebrations like the Dubai Shopping Festival, Dubai Desert Classic for golfers among the other such bizarre yet amazing carnivals. Ramadan, brings in the time of fasting from dawn to dusk, to thank the almighty for all the blessings in our lives. While, the feast of breaking the fast, Eid al Fitr is celebrated with huge gatherings and humongous volumes of food served in the social gathering. It commemorates the harmony the festival of Ramadan, and the togetherness with which the entire fast is observed. Abstaining from eating on the streets during Ramadan was a key learning, to ensure we pay respect towards the customs of the culture.
Living in Bern, the capital city of Switzerland came as a major cultural shock; My college, S P Jain appointed me as an exchange student to Bern University of Applied Sciences, and things were about to change for a lifetime. Bern, unlike Singapore or Dubai had a very countryside like touch to it, tranquil yet an abode poised with life. Being there for half a year, I got the opportunity to be a part of a unique annual fete known as the Bern fasnacht festival which involves colorful parades, confetti, and loud music pouring in from the main streets of Bern, the parliament lit with colorful lights and graffiti, and people gathering to eat and drink in a jolly good manner. Switzerland truly stands up to the tagline of ‘Heaven on Earth’.
The last part of this educational and adventurous experience is in the land down under. Sydney, rated as one of the best cities to live in the world; a laid back society growing leaps and bounds with its tourism and education sector. Festivals in Sydney are a treat to the eyes. The iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge for a great view along with the fireworks on a New Years Eve is one great way to celebrate the end of another year past by and to welcome a greater new year. The Australia day celebrations, the enthusiasm with which football and cricket is celebrated, the magnanimity of the celebrations of the Chinese New Year at Chinatown, the boxing day madness, are all few of the millions of things which makes one feel like being home away from home.
Singapore, Dubai, Bern and Sydney, all had their own share of festivals and galas, their own cultures and unique ways of celebrating each of their customs, but there is one thing common in all the festivals across these cities. Despite the different ways of celebration, the reason for it all was to hobnob with friends and families, to cherish the memories made with the lost ones, to create new relationships, to get away from the daily stress and to be around an environment of laughter and happiness.
Festivals come and go, but the memories made during the short-lived days of festivities keeps one going with energy and dynamism throughout the rest of the year. These little pockets of memories are those big baskets of happiness, which, when kept fresh last a lifetime. It does not matter which festival it is anymore, what matters is the happiness and joy with which we look forward to these days. Let’s create some memories which will keep us going, let us create festivals for the sake of happiness and laughter, and let’s move forward with a smile on our faces for the next festival is around the corner.
~ Vikash Kumar, BBA12