To celebrate is to rejoice! ‘To observe a day or commemorate an event with ceremonies and festivities’- as defined in the dictionary. A ‘conscious celebration’ is to do the same with intention and attention!
There is more beyond the ‘big party’ that festivals represent, with feasting, drinking (and getting drunk – sadly), the holiday specials, sugar treats, and ‘getting everything you wanted.’ If we look deeper and seek to know more than what we do of the commercialized celebrations, we will understand the true spirit people have been celebrating for centuries.
By celebrating with awareness, compassion, and gratitude, we can make festivals memorable occasions to progress on our path, bond with family, connect with our communities, and do your two bits for the environment and fellow earthlings.
Here are some easy ‘conscious celebrating’ tips to incorporate into your festivals and transform into meaningful celebrations.
DISCOVER the spiritual in the ritual
Festivals have deep-rooted significance; they celebrate and highlight invaluable life lessons! While Ganesh Chaturthi depicts the karmic circle of life, Diwali is about finding the light and leading us from ignorance to awareness. Christmas typifies the spirit of ‘keeping Christ in Christmas,’ meaning the daily revealing of the character, love, and spirit of Christ that dwells in you, while Ramadan is fasting for the body, mind, and heart (refrain from food and drinks but more importantly, from immoral acts and thoughts).
Festivals were created to make you pause and reflect. Rediscover the true spirit of the occasion you are celebrating. Learn about the divine significance of your rituals and embrace the morals they stand for.
Instead of the commercial gifts in the market, commemorate the special day with a ‘gift of service’ from you to people you care about. When you give of yourself, you truly give! It could be running an errand for your father, cleaning out a closet for your mother, spending a ‘do what they want day’ with your children, or giving a back rub to your spouse. If you sat down to think about what to gift, you will likely come up with a long list. Make it relevant, personal, and meaningful, and watch the blessings multiply.
If you want to gift a ‘gift,’ handmade and store-bought green ones are ideal.
STRENGTHEN family bonds
Celebrating together as a family has three significant benefits:
- Bring families together since, very often, people live across zip codes!
- Solid and lasting bonds – family members genuinely connect and create a deep sense of belonging that they can pass on to future generations.
- Create memories and share values that outlive a lifetime.
Try and make festivals and special days occasions to invite the larger family. Families who celebrate special events are likelier to raise kids who have a strong sense of identity, are healthy, and have close ties to family members. Not only celebrate together but also plan and prepare together.
Family reunions are an essential part of family life. They can help preserve fond memories, favorite recipes, stories, and, most importantly, relationships that will last for generations.
Little rituals or shared acts go a long way in developing a close-knit family. Traditions make children feel secure, create a sense of identity and belonging, feel loved, and form bonds with each other.
From the festival rituals to even something as simple as preparing the same menu, with precisely the same recipes, year after year, taking a few minutes to gather together as a family in prayer and devotions or ‘story-telling time’ to help members get to know one another, traditions keep the family together.
Create new traditions for your celebrations or carry forward old ones.
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday, we can seek an opportunity to do something charitable. It could be helping out with your time at an NGO project, feeding people in need, donating to a charitable organization, or even some service in the community, home repairs, or yard work for an elderly neighbor. Do small things or big deeds. The list of opportunities is endless!
Find someone with a genuine need, involve your whole family in the ‘goodwill project,’ and you may discover that you’ve given a gift back to yourself. In return, they will shower you with a gift you can never repay; they will open your eyes to the true spirit of the celebration!
This is the great paradox of learning to celebrate compassionately: We don’t give to needy people; they provide for us!
GREEN the day
Let your celebrations be an inspiration for you to reduce your personal earth footprint. By being conscious of your consumption and trying to conserve resources, you can truly enjoy the festival, knowing the planet is not heavier because of it.
There are many ways to celebrate green:
- Electrical consumptions (try Soya wax candles and LED lights)
- green decorations (recycled paper, biodegradable cloth instead of plastic and thermocol, natural ornaments made from twigs, stones, etc., instead of store-bought)
- Local food and beverages (food produced and distributed locally requires less transportation, which decreases our carbon footprint)
- Limit the fireworks and loud displays of music
- Buy what you need and resist the urge to stock due to sales and specials
INTEND well, and so it will be
The most important of all is to have the right intentions while celebrating. Enjoy the day with a happy, joyful, and light-hearted heart. Be grateful for your blessings and rejoice in the moment, the day, and life.
When you repeat the season’s greetings that resonate millions of times worldwide, take a moment and examine the true meaning and essence of the words. Let the wish for the other be heartfelt and genuine.
Create an ambiance of laughter and frivolity. Forgive people, forget grudges, and bury differences. Celebrate with love and compassion, for this truly is the base for all festivals to have been established.