“Festivals Teach Us To Live Together As Humans”
Festivals are a way to celebrate our culture, heritage, and traditions. But much more than that, festivals are special occasions to realize that we are humans beyond our religion, color, caste, and creed. The moments of rejoicing inspire us to share our love and bonhomie with others too, irrespective of whether they are of the same religion or not. It is this feeling of oneness and brotherhood that noted entrepreneur S.N.M.D. Sarkar, Founder-CEO of the TRAVEL KAROO FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANY, wants us to feel and share beyond this year’s Navratri festival. As this year’s Navratri – the nine days on which nine different forms of Goddess Durga are celebrated, worshipped, and cherished – draws to a close, Mr. Sarkar has wished all his Hindu brothers and sisters ‘Happy Durga Puja’ and with that, he has a wish that he wants to share with everyone.
In his words, “Indians come in all hues and shades and so are our festivals. While I may celebrate Eid at home, in my office, I celebrate all the Indian festivals, including Holi, Diwali, Christmas and Navratri because my workforce has employees belonging to different religions and faith. We encourage ‘Sarva-Dharam Sambhaav’ at the workplace and it is this bonhomie that inspires the hope for a better future among us all.”
As Indians, everyone has welcomed the festive season with open arms, after suffering different phases of lockdown for months this year. However, at the same time, the general atmosphere in the country has also become disturbed because of incessant religious bigotry and unnecessary politicization of issues of public interest. Amidst all this, festivals like Navratri and Eid add hope to our hearts as we feel generally happy and content with what we have in life. This warmth and geniality that comes with each special occasion could well be the key to a better life for all of us, if only we learn how to live like this beyond the festivals, feels Mr. Sarkar.
He says, “Faith is what drives Indians. It is our core strength irrespective of which God we pray to. If we imbibe our faith and all that is good about it in our daily life, into our daily behavior, wouldn’t that be just wonderful!” He asks, “When we are so accommodating and tolerant towards others around us during Diwali, Eid, Holi, Christmas and Navratri, what makes us so intolerant and unaccommodating towards other faiths during the rest of the year? Why do we turn our backs on our friends, relatives, and neighbors during regular days?”
He cited an example of one of the famous Durga Pujas of the country, organized in Kidderpore, Kolkata, one of the oldest Muslim-dominated areas of the state of West Bengal. In keeping with their 80-year-long tradition of religious harmony, people of all faiths in the area are engaged in preparations for the Durga Puja Pandal, which is being set up with financial help from Hindus as well as Muslims. Quoting one of the organizers, Mr. Sarkar said, “A festival is for humans, not for different faiths. So, we all should come together to not just celebrate it on that particular day, but carry that feeling of religious bonhomie throughout the year.”
In another example from his personal life, Mr. Sarkar adds, “Being an entrepreneur, I have a lot of people from different faiths working for me. These days, being Navratri, I get messages on my phone that end with Jai Mata Di. I don’t have to think twice before writing back ‘Jai Mata Di’ while acknowledging the messages. That is because I have faith in humanity and I consider all Indians my brothers and sisters. But this feeling of oneness is what we need for the rest of the days too.”
Festivals are not about just that day or exchanging greetings for just one day in a year. Festivals teach us to keep up the spirit for the rest of the year too. Whether it is our neighbors, siblings, or colleagues, the way we come together on festivals, despite having bad blood between us! So, what keeps us from staying together for the rest of the year?
Lastly, Mr. Sarkar says, “Festivals are for a lifetime, not for one single day. The bonhomie and love that we feel for each other during Navratri should continue the next day as well. We shouldn’t forget it all and get back to our routine lives of religious disharmony and cruelty the very next day. In a few days, we are going to celebrate Dussehra too. Wouldn’t it be nice if we burn the Raavan inside us too, along with the Raavan outside?”...