Pressure of festivals

July 13, 2009 at 10:27 pm (Uncategorized)

As a child, when there was an essay writing for ‘our festivals’; I made sure to write that festivals are created to bring change in our lives from our routine. It is supposed to bring joy to our lives and bring family together.

I felt truly so but as ‘bahu’ – especially working woman, it became so much of pressure then anything else. Also, most of our festivals relate to food and it puts me in bad situation – being a bad cook which I am. (you will see this coming up as my weakness in many blogs so sorry for being stereotyped here!)

May it come to presenting to VP, discussing weighted value calculations, analyzing data and driving the decision…all seems a breeze. But when it comes to Ganesh Chaturthi, getting up and making laddus and doing puja then I start worrying and stressing out a month in advance.  What if I have some deadline around that time and I am really working hard – day and night and I can not find time to make laddus? What if it falls in weekdays and I want to cook laddus in advanced on weekend? What if they do not turn out to be good?  Then here comes the ‘nag pancham’ – what if i could not observe fast as my FIL did (consider me living in joint family – my PIL are with us, half of the year – every year), what if I did not draw the picture correctly as my FIL did (so with increasing age PILs have passed down ‘rituals’ of family to me so what they did – now I am supposed to do it.) In Diwali – it seems to much pressure to clean each and every cabinets and its contents the way moms did. And cooking so much food…argh!

Also I am always in good spirit to celebarte x-mas or halloween than I am in for our festivals for a couple of reasons. Being in US, i have holidays during amrecan festivals so it kinds of takes the pressure off in terms of time. Also again being in US, it really feels in the air for american festivals unlike Diwali or other indian festivals here. And really not being an american I can celebrate without getting into customs (phew!) 🙂 Also easy to remember when it comes without being worried about lunar calendar which we would follow for most of our festivals.

Having said this, I really am not atheist – I am actually theist in my way…..not following rituals, i do neither question existence of God nor oppose some of our customs. I just ask for little bit freedom here to continue true meaning of festival as I stated above in the beginning. As much as I want to teach my DS (dear son) about our culture, and feel it is necessary especially being 10k miles away from home country, I do not agree to rigidity. Why one can’t just pray to Lord Ganesha on ganesh-chaturthi and enjoy store-bought laddus? Cleaners clean my house every 15 days and I keep cleaning cabinets etc as needed through out the year, what so big deal about taking all dishes out and cleaning all at once during Diwali? And when i really do not believe in fasting ‘shitala satam’ for my child’s sake (and really, which god/goddess is going to punish you and your child because you did not observe fast for that god?)

My philosophy is what Lord Vishnu showed to Narad Muni. Story goes like this. Narad – so proud praying 24/7 …’narayan naryan’, asks once Lord Vishnu – “who is your the biggest disciple?” and waited to hear his own name. Narad was  shocked to hear some farmer’s name instead. When challenged by Narad about him being the biggest ‘bhakta’, Vishnu gives Narad a bowl full of oil – to the top, and asks him go around the earth without spilling a single drop. On return, Narad is asked that how many time he said ‘narayan’. Narad replied how is it possible to focus on bowl of oil and at the same time pary to god. Vishnu sends him off to observe the farmer who prayed to got first thing in the morning for a minute and goes about his day at the fram. After very hard work al day long, at the end of the day he does not forget to thank god for good things in his life. After that Narad learns the biggest lesson.

Same way, I have hard time keeping up with all the things go on in my life, yet god is nearest and dearest to my heart, just can’t go about following rituals rigidly. I do appreciate them who can. I just do not think it should be imposed. Same way festivals, it is hard to follow evrythign traditionally though I celebrate them. And again considering cooking as my weakenss, I have hard time meeting the expecations. So instead of bringing joy, festivals bring just stress. Of course, it brings change but not a good kind.  I truly appreciate working woman who can do it all without being imposed.

What is your take on celebrating festivals?



  1. panchalkc said,


    Interesting post!

    Well, you specifically asked for my (reader’s) take on the issue.

    I’m an atheist. I have stopped enjoying festivals in any particular way. I’m not able to synchronsize my mood with the lunar calendar in such a way that I mandatorily feel happy enough to celebrate only when some festival comes!

    But it is good you’ve tried to induct some rationality into your take on religious festivals. I find it unfortunate when people blow up a fortune to ‘customarily’ celebrate when otherwise they could be suffering from financial troubles and even finding it difficult to support their children’s education.

    If you find time, please go through my comments to ‘Cilla’ at my latest post–‘Residua’
    , which is a story and takes over an hour to read, so you may not read the post–just read those comments that I’m referring to.

    If you read them with an open mind, you’ll feel much less guilty of being not able to celebrate your festivals in the traditional way.


    • indianworkingwoman said,

      Hi thanks for your comment and I agree with your thoughts on blowing up fortune for customs. I am still to read comment to ‘Cilla’. Will be in touch after i read it

  2. Smitha said,

    I had been planning to read this post of yours for a while now, but somehow, got busy.

    Very true. Having been a working woman myself, I can totally identify with everything you say. I celebrate what I do, because I enjoy it and certainly not because of pressure. In fact with any kind of pressure, I just don’t enjoy the festival at all. So I set the expectations, very early in the marriage that I do not follow these rituals and do only those that I enjoy 🙂 I do not fast – I get headaches if I don’t eat on time – so I have never fasted – it just does not make sense to me why, people expect so many rituals to be followed, especially when our lives are so hectic. Surely, festivals would be more enjoyable if everybody is relaxed and having fun, rather than the women slaving away in the Kitchen..

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