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Business News/ Leisure / Our festivals reflect our tolerance for chaos

Our festivals reflect our tolerance for chaos

Our festivals reflect our tolerance for chaos


More than the national flag; more than debates about immigration such as the one France is having; more than how elections are run and won; the way a nation celebrates and condoles reflects—I would argue—the way its citizens live and die.

American celebrations are programmed, demonstrating its belief in and expertise with systems. Weddings have rehearsals. Can you imagine an Indian wedding with a “rehearsal" the day earlier? Parades in Europe are planned; its protests, such as the ones in Copenhagen, decorous. The way the Japanese react to their festivals—even so-called rambunctious ones such as Setsubun—suggests the nation’s inherent love of quietude, nature and order. South America’s carnivals, fiestas and mardi gras epitomize its Latin exuberance and sensuality. Gallic joie de vivre, Spanish flamboyance, the list of stereotypes and accompanying truths goes on. Indian celebrations follow what Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi (and economist Friedrich Hayek after him) called spontaneous order with makeshift pandals and hastily assembled decorations, all of which lead to colourful order amid seeming chaos. Like many developing countries, we Indians too have a formidable capacity for celebration, however poor our means.

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Published: 17 Dec 2009, 09:25 PM IST
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