We all are familiar with the various facets of our religious festivals, going to temples, churches or mosques, or celebrating at home, eating traditional food , wearing new clothes and visiting family and friends.
One other thing many of us, just observe in passing, occasionally grimacing at the noise, is the public functions and cultural programmes in the weeks following.
Often organised by groups of young men, mostly from poorer neighbourhoods, these functions provide avenues for them to prove that they can "do something". School and college students have their culturals, those working in corporates have similar opportunities too. Residents welfare associations organise get-togethers in club houses or community halls.
These young people, they use public spaces.
Some aspects originated in village traditions. Some of these youngsters may be driven by faith, some feel an ownership of their community; some may admit they are doing it for "jolly", a good way to pass time, and party with friends. They collect money from every family in the neighbourhood, which gives Rs 51, Rs 101, Rs 501 or more. It’s not that everyone of them can afford it. But there is sanction from their families, because of the religious nature.
Putting up a pandal on the road, performing a grand homa, and an orchestra in the evening gives them a chance to "show off", in front of their peers, and beyond their class and caste; they assert their identity. There is competition between different groups – more lights, bigger sound system, inviting more prominent local leaders…
But should it not be a matter of concern that this is one of the very few avenues for exposure and experience for such young people. Where else can they get a chance to hone their talents and leadership skills?