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New Year's Eve - A Different Facet Today

New Years Eve - A Different Facet Today

Sentinel Digital Desk

Indrani Medhi

It's that time of the year again to welcome and celebrate a new beginning and wave goodbye to the bygone year with the hope that it will invite truckloads of happiness and joy in everyone's life. New Year's Eve (31st December) and the first day of the New Year, according to the Gregorian calendar, is one of India's many celebrations. With the growth of the western culture across the globe, people in all parts of India dress colourfully and indulge in fun filled activities, feasting, singing, dancing, and attending parties on New Year's Eve. Night clubs, movie theatres, resorts, restaurants, clubs and amusement parks are filled with people of all ages. The media too covers many New Year events which are showcased on prime channels for most of the day. People who decide to stay indoors resort to these special shows on television for entertainment and fun. In metro cities in India, the celebrations are huge where new year parties become extravagant and lavish whereas in smaller places it is a low key affair. The fun filled occasion is considered a great opportunity to get closer to the loved ones in our lives and enjoy bountifully.

New Year's Eve in India is no less than a festival. People celebrate it with great pomp and pleasure with family and friends and escalate their happiness with music, dance, food, crackers and lighting. New year is the time to party hard and dig in to the fun. There are different opinions as to when New Year's Day was first celebrated in India. Some say that it was observed when the British colonized India while others say that its popularity bloomed only after the 1940s. Earlier people used to greet and wish each other by exchanging gifts, flowers and greeting cards. Today they exchange messages on social media platforms. Gifts and cards are no more a part and parcel of the New Year celebration.

With the advent of globalization and the world becoming a 'global village,' traditions and values of diversified hues are being adopted regardless of geographical boundaries. This shows a literal diversion from our native culture and inclination towards the west. People are blindly following the western culture without knowing its significance. Fascination for western festivals New Year's Eve, Halloween, Tomatino, Thanksgiving, etc. in India and the inclination towards the west is a relatively recent phenomenon. Do we really need to celebrate western festivals like Halloween or New Year's Eve? That's a question that has been occupying the minds of many of late. The argument proposed is that in a country like India, one that is populated by myriad people, languages, cultures and festivals, it's odd that Indians wish to adopt additional festivals, particularly those that culturally aren't our own. Taking this argument a notch further, fundamentalists argue that adopting western festivals would lead to the erosion of our own heritage and indigenous festivals. Many might believe that ours is a secular, democratic country offers, let's enjoy that freedom rather than questioning it. People get carried away by these celebrations so much so, that New Year's Eve parties in India often ends up badly and has negative impact on women revelers as such gatherings witness shameful display of incidents of sexual harassment and molestation cases. New Year's Eve celebrations in India turns into a disaster every year as thousands of women are groped and sexually assaulted by mobsters and hooligans. The police apathy is outrageous for its failure to stop physical assaults on women. Equally outrageous are the crowds hanging around as mute spectators of a salacious drama in which women are groped, stripped and assaulted every year. Then why do we need such celebrations in our country?

Indian culture, which is one of the oldest and richest cultures, is today posing a serious threat as western culture is establishing its strong base in India and slowly and gradually wiping the Indian culture. It has already made its presence in Indian metro cities and now slowly heading towards other parts of India. The wide variety of festivals celebrated in India is a true manifestation of its rich culture and traditions. While we celebrate our own festivals with unparalleled enthusiasm, not many of us know or remember the reason we celebrate these festivals. Earlier, the elders of our families would tell us their significance, but that art of story-telling has now waned, and we're left with trying to scour the world wide web for relevant information about a festival.

Westernization has greatly affected our traditions, customs, our family and our respect and love for others. It is dominantly believed that 'being western is superior'. Of course, there's no harm in adopting the good from the west but this does not mean that we should pretend to be western and misrepresent or forget our own identity. But the western world looks at India for its honesty and its rich and unique cultural heritage. It is very unfortunate that today's generation has very little knowledge about their culture, traditions and their roots. Who is to blamed for this? Today, India is growing in every field and the inclination towards the west is making India more modern. But rather than being modern, it is more important and necessary for us to know our culture and their traditions so that we can preserve our identity for the future generations to come.

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