Anandpur is gearing up for Sankranti. I think everyone should get the privilege of attending a village celebration atleast once in lifetime, through all its preparations and festivities.
Everyone participates and contributes. Whatever they can, however they can. A fair is being put up complete with small shops, tents and merry-go-round wheel. Small artisans, potters, cottage industries of various kinds have started pouring in, in hope of excellent sales. The temples are being decorated, village tailors are loaded with orders of stitching, the cattle are getting decorated with ornaments, their horns, hoofs painted. The people are donating whatever food rations they can, for a collective meal to be prepared at the temple hearth. They keep changing my status from “family” to “guest” and vice versa. For example, last Saturday, the elders from the Mandi called me their daughter because they had to gift me Jeera. Today, I am a “guest” so I cannot gift anything to their children or donate to the temple feast. And since I am a “guest”, I must attend and eat. I wonder, with this clever pursuasion, how has Rural India been unable to get its way around bureaucratic bottlenecks and lack of political will ! The children are excited, running around wildly. A couple of them came screaming inside the bank squabbling over a kite. It took them a minute to realize where they were, until they were chased away by few customers. The sky is much like Jaipur sky on Sankranti, dotted with kites and roads occupied by players of Satolia. However, so far, there hasn’t been any announcement or worry about birds getting injured or requests for not using glass powder to weaponize the maanja. It’s common sense, I take it. A giant screen is being put up in the school playground. A movie will be shown there, under the open sky. Popcorn, revdi, gajak, moongfali and tilkoot will be freshly heated on sand and sold to the movie watchers. Everyone sits on the ground, with few cots and chairs for the elders and “VIPs”. The tree branches act as balcony seats.
One feels a sense of genuine euphoria, jubilant celebrations and moral responsibility to ensure that everything goes smoothly. This is much different than the city parties one attends in stress or pressure, or the Urban habit of various isolated groups huddled up amongst themselves competing with consumption.
A village celebrates life in such a way that everyone gets an opportunity to enjoy, contribute and find livelihood. Religion and festivals are essential to the spirit of rural India. Anyone who vilifies, condemns or interferes without actually navigating their way through the good, bad and ugly of the community, is merely doing a disservice to the self. Our villages are a different world, waiting for us to find home.