Modernization of Diwali: Hindu Culture & Tradition

Modernization of Diwali: Hindu Culture & Tradition

Puja, the traditional way: Modernization of Diwali

That’s probably true about the Diwali puja too. Much of the younger generation doesn’t have the patience or the time for rituals. “Diwali was celebrated earlier more out of faith. It was more pious. Now it’s commercialized. It’s more of a show,” says Reema. But she adds that there are some who still do Ganesh puja and aarti, light diyas and draw the Satya sign. “I make rangoli outside my home and decorate it,” she says.

Even the business class continues to do puja in their shops. Atul Bhargava, president of New Delhi Trader’s Association, remembers that his father used to get a pandit to do puja at the open safe in his shop. Now, “however modern my wife might be, she comes to do puja at the shop. After all, that’s where the bread and butter comes from,” he reasons.

Game for casino parties?

Diwali parties have also been a tradition. But their glitter has changed with the times. True, there are still get-togethers where people like Reema organize simple card parties with friends. But for a number of others, “Diwali parties are like mini sangeets”, says Ruchi Chopra who runs a personalized gifting service that helps people organize surprise parties. Despite being in the business, Ruchi was amazed when she attended a party that resembled a casino in Las Vegas. “There were eight tables with different denominations and I was asked to stop at the one with Rs 50 as I was a novice!” she says. “The most noticeable change has been the almost complete replacement of traditional card games like rummy with modern ones like poker. Roulette tables with a dealer are the rage but these are slightly more expensive and not as common yet.” Ruchi has organized everything from “personalized drinking games to poker games” and even designed personalized gifts and return gifts like “the very popular card decks”.

Vandana Gotra, an independent event planner based in Delhi, also likens Diwali parties today to traditional Indian weddings. “There are many days of revelry and the celebrations begin at least a week in advance,” she says.

At the individual level, regional nuances are beginning to melt under the overwhelming influence of cosmopolitan culture. “Everybody is hosting card parties these days, not just north Indian communities who believe a bit of gambling brings good luck during Diwali. Most of us are invited to at least one card party every night in the run-up to the festival, and I know a few this season that are being hosted by Maharashtrian families too,” says T Anupam, CEO of Lifestyle Center Management in Mumbai.

That boredom with the old is also impacting the kind of gifts people are buying. Mehul Choksi, CMD of diamond and jewellery manufacturing and retailing company, Gitanjali Group says, “There’s an increase in people’s buying power. They now want to buy products which are new and modern.” He adds gold, silver and diamonds are doing very well despite their high prices. “There’s been 75% sales growth since the beginning of Navratras.” Gold and silver coins have always been a favorite. Nalini Mohan, a mother of two married daughters in Delhi, remembers that she didn’t have to buy any gold for their marriages, “because we used to buy gold or silver coins every Diwali.”

T Anupam adds that the festival of lights comes a close second to family weddings in terms of shopping for high-value garments and accessories. The value of gifts has risen phenomenally, spanning many items, ever since the birth of malls in India some seven years ago. But the rush hasn’t started yet this year, says P G Makhija, CEO of Bombay Dyeing. He thinks it’s possibly because of inflation. “People want to buy more, but the volumes are close to last year’s figures,” he says. He is upbeat about the large number of inquiries about their new fragrant bed linen called Aroma Rich, the launch of which coincided with the festive season.

Gizmos on Dhanteras: Modernization of Diwali

There’s a widespread consensus that gadgets are the ‘new gold’ for consumers now. On Dhanteras last year, Anna Shekhar did not buy any gold, silver or jewellery as she had done for the past 25 years of her marriage. “Instead I bought a laptop, a shiny gold one,” says this Nagpur homemaker who thought the laptop would be of more use and she would also be keeping to the tradition of buying metal.

“It was the first time that I bought a gadget on Dhanteras. My daughter has been doing that since the time she was 15. Even in her new home (with her husband in Delhi), they buy gadgets mostly, sometime appliances too. I think I am going to end up doing the same. After all, like jewellery, gadgets are a status symbol too,” says Shekhar.

Probably that’s why corporates are hoping for an upswing in sales this year. Sony India’s marketing budget is Rs 45 crore this festive season. “We are expecting at least 50% growth in sales,” says Tadato Kimura, general manager, marketing, Sony India, adding that the company’s special this time is digital photo frames.

Mobiles and cameras are the usual favorites, but another hot-selling item this year is portable hard drives. “They are sleek, very useful and unlike cell phones, it does not matter whether ‘you get yet another as a gift’,” says Mumbai-based Mithali Sharma, who has bought “30 slim 100GB ones for all her friends.”

The craze for new gizmos is making its impact on online shopping. Who would have imagined 20 years ago, that if you didn’t have the inclination or the time for some market hopping, then one day all you need would be a plastic card and a Net connection to get ‘Diwali dhamaka discounts’ and have the gifts delivered within a week? “Just the thought of the crowds, the traffic and the parking nightmare is scary,” says Rajyashree M, who ordered 200 dry fruit boxes to be delivered to her colleagues, friends and even some family members online. “The best deals are online,” says Mithali, who bought hard drives, a cellphone and a laptop online. eBay India has launched a television campaign specifically for online Diwali shopping.

Check Also

Bonfires and Bonhomie

Bonfires and Bonhomie: Lohri, Pongal, Makar Sankranti

Bonfires and Bonhomie: Creating an aura of warmth to ward off the winter chill, there …