While the Hindu worldview
proclaims that Reality - or God - is one and one alone, it gives
ample place and space to the worshipping of personified manifestations
of its manifold powers and attributes, qualities and other expressions.
This recognition of 'the One in the Many' makes up for India's
colourful Hindu pantheon with its arsenal of gods and goddesses,
and Auroville, emerging in a rural, prominently Hindu-based bioregion,
has become closely familiar with the various festivals and celebrations
in the area.
Young Pooja Trivedi from Mumbai, relatively new to Auroville,
tells you more about this dynamising and inspiring aspect of life
in India, and will describe for you the festivals throughout the
year to come.
Land of festivals
While India is often and justly described
as a land of many religions and innumerable languages, it may
be described as a land of festivals as well. In India, festivals
are spread throughout the year and are a time to rejoice, merrymaking,
rituals, family get- togethers and yes, not forgetting the various
goodies and feasts that go along with the festive seasons. In
more backward areas, such as the one in which Auroville finds
itself, festival days are traditionally the only days that leave
of work is given, the only holidays..
Apart from more local festivals, there are
also festivals that are common to the whole of India and are celebrated
by almost everyone. India is a secular country, and everyone,
be they Hindus, the Muslims, Sikhs or Christians, looks forward
to the many festivals celebrated by the other.
As a child I have a very distinct memory of
the various festivals that we celebrated at home in Mumbay. Of
Diwali, for instance, I remember how I waited for the sweets to
be cooked and for dad to come home with the firecrackers. And
now, living in Auroville in Tamil Nadu, thousands of miles away
from home, I recognise the same anxious faces and smiles on the
children of Kuilapalayam as they run around with flowers in their
hair during festival days. My memories come flooding back as I
watch them shout with joy as they light their firecrackers and
wait to plunge into the sweets.
Various kinds of celebrations
As in any old civilisation, most of these
festivals have religious significance. Quite a number of them
are dedicated to the various gods and goddesses and their incarnations.
If it seems as though every day in India is marked by some celebration,
it must be remembered that this is the result of the inter-mingling
of different communities and different religions, - respected
by all. There are also festivals in celebration of the wind, the
rain, the fire and other animal forms, animate and inanimate objects.
As the monsoons take place in different months in different parts
of India, the many festivals related to the harvest are celebrated
at different times.
There are various festivals that are distinct
to the southern part of India, and again every district may have
its own distinct festivals. It would be difficult to portray each
of these each in detail, and in these pages we'll describe the
festivals taking place in Auroville's bioregion as they come along
in time. Although these celebrations provide an excellent space
for Aurovilians to come together with the local inhabitants of
in the area, it is not necessary to directly take part in them.
One can be a silent observer and absorb some of the light and
dedication, the joy and inspiration they invariably give. It is
a telling fact that, in one way or the other, in almost all Aurovilian
households some homage is given to the celebrations honoured in
India is a land that has the capacity to
accommodate anyone who decides to merge in the beauty and believe
in the divine forces that bind India as a dimension of unity in
diversity. What better space for Auroville to develop in?