"It's been said that we just don't recognise the significant moments in our lives while they are happening, that we grow complacent with ideas or things or people, we take them for granted and it's usually not until that thing is to be taken away from you that you realise how wrong you've been, that you realise how much you loved it."
It often starts with a mail regarding the Cultural Committee inviting students to an event on campus. This is usually followed by the question:
"What's the point?"
"But I don't have any traditional attire to wear right now"
"I would rather sleep, or play FIFA/PUBG or finish up an assignment "
"I usually celebrate this festival with my family, so I'll be going home"
"It's not a festival I've celebrated in the past, it's going to be a bunch of people of that culture alone celebrating it, so I'll feel like a misfit"
"I don't feel like faking anything for Instagram photos now"
There could be about a dozen reasons to stay uninvolved during cultural occasions, but most of the time, all you need to find is one reason to stay involved. Most campuses are generally isolated and for this reason, each of us gets to make our own versions of distractions. It's really as simple as having the ability to keep an open mind and try participating however you think you can. You would come to see it as a refreshing break from the parties that are commonplace during this time of the year, and maybe even get to know a new thing or two.
Let me show you how that happened to me with the Pongal Festival during my time at B-School two years ago. A lot of people from the north had never worn a veshti (a formal lungi) and it was hilarious seeing them walk consciously with a healthy bit of fear that it would come undone. It was pleasantly surprising to note how they approached South Indians to help them wear it securely. Colourful kites were distributed and we could see how North Indians were showing the rest of us how to get the kite lodged in the air while trying to cut the existing players in the game. It's a surreal feeling to hold reins of a kit firmly in your grasp for the first time as the strong wind threatens to snatch it from your grasp. That feeling is hard to give up, till the sky darkens and you have to let it go. I saw it as one of the humbling lessons nature was trying to teach me. But, if someone does hand over their lodged kite to you to hold, you wouldn't be wrong if you read between the lines.
It's times like these that make you realise how often you were most open and honest, and the people you chose to trust with it. More often than not, you don't know these people very much. Not their histories anyway. You accept the family you think you deserve. The one that lets you grow. The best memories are made when you hardly expect them. So remember to express your gratitude to the committee behind it, especially when they've given you a memory to cherish.
Let yourself free sometimes, to be reminded of the enormity of life beyond everything you think you can control. You're going to miss the time you had. Happy Celebrating!