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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Preparing to Change Gears



Christmas is gone. So much anticipation, preparation, and eagerness lost their purpose for one more year. At least, the part of it that relates to the Christmas spirit. I can't really claim that the festive spirit stays away for long, especially in a country of festivals like India. But yes, though the New Year is nigh, and some of excitement of the winter festival spell is still left, once we stumble upon the New Year, the focus naturally shifts to the less enjoyable tasks and the less exciting routine.


Christmas brings the New Year closer, but the New Year always brings closer the end of the holidays, the annual examinations, project submissions, and for the unlucky 10th and 12th graders, the nightmare called 'Board Exams'. The thought of answering the School Certificate exams haunts me already as an 8th Grader, and I have love less enough for the school exams; I shudder to think of the day, which is nearer to a year than two years away, when 10th Grade will befall me. Oh, the huge syllabus, oh, the long hours of studying, oh, the stress, the worry and the unhappiness that they say it will bring. Oh Mystery Called God, Praying To Whom Always Works Even Though I Don't Completely Believe, help me.




New Year. Countdown, fireworks, staying up till midnight. New hope, resolutions, new calendars and planners, marking important dates anew. My mother says that the day itself is just chance, and that the spirit lies in the hope and the joy it brings. And she's right. Pick a day, celebrate it, come back after 365 days, celebrate it again, continue. Don't forget to make that 366 for every fourth year, except for every 100th year, but including every 1000th year. Done! In fact, in India, we have so many different linguistic/racial communities and religious groups with their own calendars that we have loads of New Years. We Bengalis begin our calendar with the month of Baishakh, which starts in the middle of April. We call it Poyela Boishakh, in some dialects Pohela Boishakh. Punjabis begin with Baisakhi, a harvest festival. Marathis have Gudi Padwa, Keralites have Vishu, Tamils have Puthandu. This place will tell you more about New Years in India. Outside India too, every country, culture and religion have their own calendars and New Years. Many of them, like the Muslim and Chinese New Years are popular in India.


Then there is the general Hindu calendar, with it's own New Year, of course. All these celebrations have one thing in common: gratitude for all the good that happened during the past year, realisation and promise to rectify all mistakes and defects, and renewed hope and plans for the time to come. And that is why, whenever it comes, the transition of one year to another holds so much significance. And of course there's the excitement of staying up, the rather surreal and amazing manner in which, in a split second, it's no more the previous year, but a whole new year, with new possibilities, potential and hope. We decide when it would happen, yes, but the hugely overwhelming feeling of the midnight switch is all the same, across calendars, across different dates for celebrating the advent of the New Year.

And the most interesting part? Lunar calendars like the Hindu and Bengali calendars. The Bengali calendar a day is said to begin at 6 a.m., as that is the average time of the moon's visible phase change at any given latitude. Quaint, don't you think?
Tall talk aside, the countdown to the New Year 2011 is in full swing. Let us enjoy the last few days of our holidays, and prepare to change gears back to the humdrum, looking forward to the next festival that comes to us in the New Year. Have fun!

Images: Google Image Search (Keywords: happy new year, new year countdown, back to school)

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