India is a melting pot of cultures. With diverse communities of different religions and ethnicities, one gets to enjoy various festivals throughout the year. From the brightness and joy of Diwali, the riotous colors of Holi, the delectable delights of Eid, the feverish happiness of Durga Puja to the merry-making festivities of Christmas, Indians have a lot to celebrate!
However, amidst all the joy and happiness, we have also witnessed an increasing commercialization of religious festivals and in fact, religion itself.
Is it a good or bad thing? Here is an English conversation on the same:
Rohan: Hi Nikita, how are you?
Nikita: Hey Rohan, I am good. How about you?
Rohan: Merry Christmas to you! Any plans for the New Year?
Nikita: Merry Christmas to you as well. No, not really. I will stay at home and maybe watch a movie. How about you?
Rohan: I am getting a couple of friends over and we will just eat, relax, and have fun.
Nikita: I seriously can’t understand why people would fork out thousands of bucks for these New Year parties. Overrated and overpriced. But ah, whatever makes them happy.
Rohan: New Year parties I can even understand. People want to forget the worries of 2018 and move on with renewed enthusiasm and vigor for the next year. But what really bugs me is how religious festivals have gone from becoming an occasion to learn more and be in touch with your spirituality to shopping fests. Everyone is competing with the other to buy more!
Nikita: I agree. Most festivals in India have become a gold mine for big companies to cash on the purchasing tendencies of people. With discounts galore and easy payment options, everyone wants to buy more and more!
Rohan: We need to ask the question though – is this necessarily a bad thing? I mean, yes, if people want to go on a shopping spree, no one can stop them. On the positive side, look at the benefits of increased consumerism for the Indian economy. More job creation and employment opportunities. And we all know how detrimental can unemployment be for the social structure of the country.
Nikita: I do agree it has a positive side, but religious sentiments are being exploited by con men and so-called upholders of faith who act as a channel between you and God. There are many instances when you have to do a particular religious activity that you think will bring inner-peace for you, but turns out you have to pay a certain sum at every step to achieve that.
Rohan: Yes, indeed. This is true for most religions. Also, a mindset is being created where people believe that the more they spend on a religious occasion, the greater will be the benefit for them in the after world. This has led to an erosion of religious values among people and soon the disenchantment and disillusion sets in, and many of them become atheists.
Nikita: The most important point is that people want salvation and short-term solutions for their problems. No wonder this is a country where people like Nirmal baba and Rampal baba have become so famous! Any rational person will know they are fooling the people, but still the masses go to them seeking help.
Rohan: Illiteracy and backwardness also play a major role in that. The more we focus on education, the more people will become logical in their decisions.
Nikita: I agree. But I have seen highly educated people also indulge in the same kind of idiocy. But yes, the overwhelming benefits of education will ensure that at least such con men do not thrive in our country.
Rohan: Yes, in the end, people will make decisions for themselves. If they have higher purchasing power, they might want to enjoy by spending more. Maybe capitalism is how religion should also work! Provide nourishment for the soul as well as boost the economy.
Nikita: Haha! That’s an interesting and quite a practical thought. Whatever benefits the country as a whole could be a good thing!
Delectable – Delicious
Fork out – Pay an amount of money (sometimes unwillingly)
Galore – In abundance
Detrimental – Tending to cause harm
Disenchantment – A feeling of disappointment about someone or something you previously respected or admired
Salvation – Preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss.