We are back into festive mode with major festivals around the corner. In the midst of all the hustle, bustle and madness, my friends and I often sit back and compare our varied experiences over the years with festivals.
With Navratri and Durga Pooja almost upon us it's 10 days of dancing and Pandal hopping with family and friends. This also means new clothes and the works. Festivals also translate into automatic money spinners where you can legally demand and spend copious amounts of money.
In college, and even way back as kids, we were allowed to step out only on weekends for all dancing and Devi Darshan. We had a curfew at home, strict timings to adhere to and driving personal vehicles was banned. We dare not even try to mention the word ‘borrow car’.Parents would kill us with the looks and it was the end without even seeing the beginning. We were allowed to go only within 3 kms radius of home, under the watchful eyes of a local brother (if you did not have your own). Basically, someone adult and respectable had to accompany you.
I always knew what Cinderella felt like because every outing of mine usually (mostly intentionally) got delayed and then began the mad scramble to reach home using the shortest route possible. Infact, we were pioneers for discovering new roads, we could give Marco Polo some competition had he been alive. If mom was seen pacing up and down, we all let out a sigh of relief coz we knew a sad face some BS story along with a few fake sorry tears and all would be well. If we saw dad pacing the road outside the house hell would break loose and we would push each other to face him hoping the earth would open up and would swallow him (not us!!!). The eldest or the tallest would get the brunt of his anger and a tongue lashing which would last till next year, we were warned of serious repercussions if the same were to be repeated. Fast forward to the present….
Youngsters plan days in advance for these days. Some even use them to plan out station trips much to the annoyance of parents, who are not asked, just ‘informed’ of their plans. Plans which are very conveniently subject to last minute change which no one bothers to update you about. In spite of having cell phones somehow either they were not charged completely or the ringer was off or some such excuse is used conveniently to blow you away when they are unreachable. If they are late you are supposed to sleep without any worries coz they are no longer kids and so on and so forth.
Back during our times, a festival meant just getting permission to be out even slightly late with friends was enough. We would manage everything else between us meaning clothes, footwear, accessories, etc.....it would be fun plotting and planning the whole 'look'. The question of asking parents for an extra rupee to indulge just did not arise....NO WAY! We were risking a total blanket ban for all those days..PERIOD!
Today festivals are huge money spinners, which are made larger than life with all the hype around them. We have nine days of Navratri with a colour theme for each of those days. Passes for Dandiya programmes for all the nine nights across the city burn a hole in the pocket; not to mention some of us who make it an event of the year by indulging in clothes, accessories and even taking dancing lessons to fit in.
During our days, festival dressing up meant cutting up and creating new clothes from mom’s sarees and father’s old kurtas and all kind of lending and borrowing - which would make it so much more fun, simpler times, and a whole lot of excitement.
While I prepare to go pandal hopping in the coming days, I am taken back to our Ganpati days – the building Ganpati idol, all our excitement and frenzied ‘guarding’ and ‘night duties’ (which just meant us friends hanging around till late evening without getting yelled at), and the final, tearful ‘Visarjan’ – the days when everyone celebrated together. I will indulge myself yet again - Oh the good old days!