This thought provoking article is an excerpt from the editorial of Vedanta Kesari published in October 2007 – which asks people to look beyond mere celebrations during Hindu festivals.
Festivals need not be celebrated with a great lot of pomp and show. One can also observe them with due solemnity and religious fervor. One can celebrate a festival in a sattvika manner rather than getting lost in a rajasic or tamasic display of one’s wealth or emotions.
Sattva is the element of purity and calmness. If a person wishes to celebrate a festival in a spirit of sattva, it means he does not want to indulge in meaningless show-off and waste of one’s energies and resources. Instead of just hosting a social gathering, he could then think of making better use of his resources.
He could extend help to the needy (feeding the poor or gifting financial help) and make use of time in meditating on God and thinking of spiritual matters. Or make use of this opportunity to relax and brush up one’s spiritual roots.
Behind many of our festivities lie our weakness and desires. Sri Ramakrishna used to humorously say:
A man used to celebrate the worship of Durga with the sacrifice of goats and with other ceremonies. He continued the worship many years and then stopped it. A friend asked him, “Why don’t you perform the Durga Puja any more?” “Brother,” replied the man, “my teeth are all gone. I have lost the power to chew goat meat.”
Indeed, many of our religious observations, when shorn of their original spirit, become a sham, a case of making offerings as long as one can ‘chew the goat meat.’ Or else how do we explain the mean or low display of one’s emotions in the name of festivals?
Source: Excerpt from the editorial of Vedanta Kesari of Ramakrishna Mission published in October 2007