ByÂ Tanima Banerjee:
With the wait for the past year to end, and the whole world waiting for the New Year to commence, we all would have been fired by the question “What are your plans to celebrate New Year?” Recently I came across an advertisement by a popular website that showed a young man sitting at home, enthusiastically watching the New Year countdown on television when a girl comes and slaps him. The advertisement proposed buying tickets for New Year parties at metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune. The idea that came across was that its ‘un-cool’ or even ludicrous and ridiculous to be not partying at some high octane dance club or high profile bar in a five star hotel which supplied unlimited alcohol. This idea of a perfect way to celebrate the New Year, owing to the interceding of western culture through media, mostly television and films, and now advertisements that has made the youth reject any other way of celebrating the new year. It has become almost unthinkable that anything less than an expensive party at some high-profile place could be the ideal way of welcoming the new year.
This categorization, though over a simple thing like a New Year bash seems to be trotting along dangerous lines of class consciousness which has seeped in insidiously amongst the youth of our country. There is a high demand for everything branded and expensive, mostly to keep up a high status amongst friend and colleagues and less in keeping with the necessities and requirements. This very thought of portraying a somewhat ‘cooler’ public image is attached to the best ways of celebrating the upcoming year. It’s no longer associated with the sentiment of warmly welcoming the new year with fresh zeal , new hope and enthusiasm but whether the party you attended was more hedonistic, more extravagant than the others. The simple traditional way of celebrating the New year like being at home with family, welcoming the new year over home-made food than sumptuous five star meals, not over an expensive champagne but over exchange of new year cards among friends and family seems to have been completely forgotten these days. The ‘slap’ that the girl gave to the boy in the advertisement exactly portrays what today’s youth thinks of such traditional, un-fancy ways of celebrations. Even if there are people who don’t think likewise, they would be coerced to change their opinions by the way media advertisements are working.
It is very troubling to see that the classification over what ideally works and what doesn’t exists among educated youth of today. Brand consciousness and keeping with appearance dominates our ideologies in such a way that we are getting disconnected with simplicity and austerity. We are forgetting the difference between necessity and luxury, which is of prime concern as we tend to get dictated in our thinking and lifestyle by what the media propagates. One tends to struggle hard to keep in sync with “what’s In?”, at the cost of emotions linked with home, family, and the true spirit of celebrating any festive moment. There is no harm if you celebrate New Year or any major event in some expensive club if you can afford it and if that is what makes you happy. But what doesn’t seem right is to be indulging in these not for personal happiness but for social acceptance and recognition. One may attend parties, but not for posting pictures on networking sites, or to be part of the party-going high society. It is important to realize that even if someone celebrates anything at home, or at some place with loved ones, then it is as charming and as “cool” as anything else.
At a time where every metro is trying to become the next Times Square, it is important to keep in mind that all this is about one’s personal happiness and celebrating hope, joy and togetherness, instead of portraying a public image or attempts at climbing the social ladder. One should celebrate with a free mind and un-dictated by media or networking sites. Lets us all welcome the New Year with true spirits and emotions and hope that the coming year brings greater joys and inspirations in all our lives! Any sort of empowerment that we hope to bring in the public arena cannot succeed until we unchain our own minds and feel free to follow any path we chose with confidence and strength. Wishing all the readers a Happy New Year 2012 , party or no party!