Unique festival that bonds the family and community
Updated: Sep 26, 2019
This is the wonderful Marriamman Festival, celebrated in the Badaga villages of the Nilgiris, in Tamil Nadu, India. The entire village is lit up, the sound of drums and bells merge into the cool breeze. Wonderful aromas of spices and curry leaves waft out of kitchen windows, as people put out their finest whites and get set to join the revelry. In the meanwhile, a decked up chariot gets its final touches, before carrying the Marriamman deity across the village. Women, children and men gather in the open community areas, to participate in celebrations that carry on non-stop for 48 hours. The festival marks the return of children and family members who have left the village to pursue their careers, studies, or perhaps because they've married out. All of them find their way back home for these two days, to participate in prayers and festivities, to and honour their ancestors. This wonderful tradition brings families and communities together, and ensures their close bond remains well nourished, and in tact.
These old customs and festivals have survived the test of time, and are perhaps more important today than ever before. With families getting geographically scattered and nuclear, jobs becoming more demanding, and pressures of modern life percolating right to the heart of every last village, it's days such as these that remind people of their core value systems, keep them tied to the roots, provide them a sense of community, serve as a reminder of a thriving support system, love, shared joy, compassion...and a centre of gravity to stay anchored to.
One must all try and create such celebrations of our own, if not in our larger community, then at least with our extended families. We can create our own little festivals that bring us together, where the young, old, and all those in the middle can catch up, share stories, spread laughter, sing, dance, eat together, and stay in touch with ones roots. Most importantly, be reminded that we are loved, cared for, and part of something bigger than just ourselves. After all, it is a proven fact that people's mental health and happiness is hugely linked to their social bonds and relationships. So go ahead, start nurturing them. Go beyond Facebook and What's App communication with your family. Pick up the phone, hear each other's voice. Meet them face to face. Share energy, hugs, love, and laughter. Even tears. But do it outside of the virtual world, put your relationships through a digital detox and rediscover the beauty and magic of sharing in the real world.