Globalization and local festivals and customs …

Today is an important day for many communities in India – Tamilians, Malayalees, Punjabis, Assamese and Bengalis all celebrate their New Year. Malayalees call it Vishu and there is specific food to be prepared, new clothes are bought and lights lit. Punjabis call is Baisakhi and its a way of saying thanks for a good harvest and the dawn of a new year. I love the Bihu festival in Assam… There is a beautiful silk sari worn while doing the Bihu dance. The dance is usually during the Rongali Bihu which is today. Just see this pic – 


Isn’t the sari stunning ? I wore my teacher’s sari while doing the Bihu dance during our annual day function in KV Happy Valley… And when we visit Assam later in the year, I am getting atleast a couple of them for me :):). 

We Tamilians celebrate by making sweets and getting together for a celebratory lunch with the family. 

With Whatsapp and Facebook and SMS am sure everyone wished everyone else today and sent generic messages about the dawn of a new year but am equally sure that we didn’t take the day off – in the new world, taking leave for your community’s new year ?? Am I crazy ? :):)

What’s interesting is today the Muslim Tamilian celebrates “Puthandu”.. The Christian Malayalee celebrates “Vishu”, the Hindu Assamese celebrates Bihu and so on – the New Year is for Tamilians, Malayalees, Assamese, Punjabis and Bengalis, irrespective of their religion … And we want to insist on celebrating Jan 1st every year as the dawn of the New Year because the World says it is the New Year. If it’s history and longevity that decides which custom survives the globalization sweep, all Indian, Chinese, Egyptian and African festivals probably pre-date all other countries put together. 

For the past 14 years I have always struggled with celebrating any Indian holiday because my client would have a working day and I still remember buying lots of crackers to be burst outside the office for the Customer Service teams at Aon Hewitt on Diwali long long back …. Because they were working. Local customs and festivals are meant to bring the community closer and a Harvard Study says language binds or divides people more strongly than even religion. With globalization, and the BPO industry, we know and celebrate Halloween, but hesitate to take the day off for Ugadi. Yes, many of our American colleagues and friends have enjoyed the “Holi” celebrations and I have friends who wish the team and me for these important festivals – it’s a great thing that many cultures are inter mingling. That’s the true globalization. 

I actually like the fact that with all the social media madness, it’s bringing back some celebration for local festivals and customs. Maybe we just make a little extra effort and celebrate these festivals and follow the important customs that help bring communities together at the same time safeguard their individual identity. Am worried that the founding dates of McDonalds and Dominos and Coke will replace all important festivals around the world….. That will be a completely globalised dull world to live in !!!



Puthandu Nalvazhthukkal, Happy Vishu, Baisakhi, Bihu and Pohela Boishak folks – May the different colors be sustained :):)

P.s – before Abhay points it out, happy Oriya New Year too !!! I missed it. 

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