Festivals are the happiest times of the year, bringing all the elements of love and affection. I believe that festivals are an expressive way to celebrate a culture, tradition and heritage.
They create special moments and emotions in our lives.
Celebrating a festival together with family and friends revivifies bonding, refreshes community life, and serves as a great way to break the monotony of everyday life. At the time of a festival, we find a sense of belonging, a change in the aura and positivity all around.
Along with togetherness with friends and relatives, festivals instill a sense of camaraderie, strengthen personal bonds and help us build a support system for life. After all, festivals create a state of exhilaration and enthusiasm and bond between individuals!
A study published in the journal Tourism Management a few years back revealed that activities and rituals involved in festivals provide entertainment to people and educate them to increase their satisfaction and loyalty.
In addition, they pave the way to escape from the everyday tedium and harsh realities of life, creating an environment that’s positive and forward-looking and hopeful. They provide a reason to socialise!
Festivals have long been significant in all human cultures albeit the oldest festivals were religious in nature. Traditionally, such celebrations would include a sacred, communal meal or feast. Hence feast was another word often used to denote festival.
History shows that ancient Greek and Roman societies relied heavily upon festivals, both communal and administrative. The word festival was originally used as an adjective in the late 14th century, deriving from Latin via old French. In Middle English, a “festival day” was a religious holiday.
Religious or not, all festivals share certain aspects and have many benefits to provide. They now matter more than ever as we are still grappling with the geopolitical fallout of the Russian conflicts, the aftermath of the Covid-19 and the gloomy forecasts for the global economy.
During the years of the pandemic, life, as we knew it, changed as countries across the world announced strict lockdowns and other restrictions fuelled by the coronavirus. Many countries continued re-imposing lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.
Those years were so dismal and gloomy that any of us has ever experienced or even imagined. The pandemic and the resultant lockdown had also deprived us of these simple joys. From children to the elderly, everyone had their routines thrown out of gear!
Since the festivals are back in their pre-pandemic mode without any restrictions except the routine health and safety warnings, they are celebrated with even greater pomp and joy.
Today, Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al Adha, a religious holiday which in Arabic means the “festival of the sacrifice”. It commemorates the story of Prophet Ibrahim’s test of faith when he was commanded by God to sacrifice his son, Ismail.
The belief holds that God stayed his hand, sparing the boy and placing a lamp in his place, thereby demonstrating the God’s mercy and providing an enduring example of faith. The holiday is celebrated with the slaughter of goats, cows, sheep, and other livestock, which is shared with family, friends, and the poor.
Apart from religious observances, Eid al Adha is also a time for acts of charity. Muslims extend their helping hand to those in need, reflecting the values of compassion and generosity.
In a world filled with enmity and hatred, Eid celebrations serve as a reminder of the power of faith that brings people together, without borders, cultures, and differences, and fosters a sense of shared humanity!
Happy Eid to all!
The writer is a freelance journalist and author with nearly four decades of experience in editing and reporting for broadsheet newspapers and magazines in India and the Gulf region