Monday, 21 November 2016

Let them eat cake.

Some days ago there was a discussion on how 'Far Right' said birthday cakes were non traditional. There was hullabulla on the moral policeing, and sniggers at whether chappatis should be cut instead. I am not 'Far Right', far from it. But I understand why they have come to power. Because of the utter inanity of the other side.

I oppose cakes and candle blowings, because what we do is being aped in villages. Every act and non-act has implications and repurcussions, and we are accountable.

1. In a village a lamp is never blown out, but is reverentially extinguished by a flower. Light is called Jyothiamma, and is divinity. When I turn on the switch at dusk, the village people immediately lower their head in a gesture of prayer. Such is the sense of reverence. Blowing out lights on a cake does not fit into this paradigm. 

2. Now learning from city based relatives (and I suspect TV serials), there are 'cakes' for some birthdays. A few village parents manage to afford this. Other children are learning what 'deprived' means. There are the 'haves' and 'have nots' among children - which was never the case in a village community.

The implications of every modern notion is vaster than we can guess even.

Aparna Krishnan   I grew up in a city, and in my childhood have had cakes for my birthdays. Even in the village in initial years I baked a cake on the firestove for our daughter's birthday (and for other children also on their birthdays), thinking it would give the children a nice time. One day when I saw the fallen face of Nadia, I realized that she was feeling bad - that on her birthday (I was away) she had not had a cake ... and that day I stopped. 

Shyamala Sanyal I strongly support you and vehemently oppose all this mindless partying that puts unprecedented pressure on the poor. One year I spent new years eve in the village only to find fireworks bursting at midnight. New years eve has reached the village 

Shyamala Sanyal In fact where people are sensitive they oppose conspicuous consumption like in schools in the UK. Children are not allowed expensive food and gifts at school for birthday s. In India it is all about showing off and outdoing each other. Children learn early.
Aparna Krishnan loss of bearings. religious precepts - the best of Sikhism, Hinduism, islam, taught virtues of shareing and restraint. That is not there. And nothing else either to give bearings. So its like many mad bulls let loose in a crockery shop.
Aparna Krishnan It is to reduce our needs day by day, and share more and more day by day. And to build up that network from where we draw courage to.
 Mahima Thangappan very true ... The implications of every modern notion is vaster than we can guess even !

Zulfi Haider very insightful...but Aparna, the problem i feel is somewhat different. It is of our tendency to 'get stuck' to things, ideas; of comparing and finding joy if we compare well enough. If that was the case, i will take to the cake, and drop it the next moment and have mangoes for next birthday, or some traditional sweet...and all would be just fine. Sticking to tradition too is a problem, it is the 'sticking' that is the issue! Yes, i do agree to the question of reverence towards certain aspects of life. But has irreverence not propelled us to discover new ways, thoughts and challenge so many stuff that were traditional beliefs and ideas. I am all for Irreverence too !
Aparna Krishnan A tradition is a continuity. A mindful engaging with it is what gives a civilization its structure. The ethics and beleifs are anchored in it. An alert questioning is needed, but not a rejection. Because then a civilization loses its sense of identity. It is Gandhi's famous quote about how all the windows of his room will be opens for ideas and winds from everywhere to blow in, but how he will not get blown off his feet and will stay rooted and absorb all those ideas.
Aparna Krishnan If the ordinary people celebrate with indian sweets or kheer, and if our indulging in cakes creates a sense of deprivation, let us move to kheer also.
Aparna Krishnan Or say, 'Let them eat cake' ?!!

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