Debidatta Aurobinda Mahapatra, PhD – Univ. of Mumbai

Why do we celebrate New Year? When the year approaches its end we start preparing ourselves for celebrations to bid farewell to passing year and to welcome New Year. We do it in our own ways but anyhow we do it. My point is besides the customary repetition of pomp every year in welcoming New Year do we celebrate for the celebration itself or is there anything else which we must appreciate and recognize while celebrating the occasion?

The year 2009 is going to be over after a few days. In fact the first decade of the second millennium will be over soon. We remember how the slogans at the onset of this new millennium echoed in various columns and quarters, we talked about 2K, and then 2K+1, in fact we then started adding to this calculations as years passed by. Things changed around us. We grew bit older and wiser (?). And the years surged and passed by. There were changes both internally and externally. We faced old and new challenges.

At a mundane level things almost remained the same. We started our daily chores, went to work, came back home after the work, mingled with family and shared happiness and sorrow like that. Throughout things took such shape, without any transformation in our lives. We enjoyed life through happiness, through sorrow, we made new friends, lost some, and life surged ahead.

When probed deep, there is something amiss in all these pomp and lights, glory and celebrations. What does it mean? I ask to myself. We celebrated few days, and then come back to our normal selves. As if the bacchic rapture surrounding New Year celebration just evaporated within a week or so! Then did it mean that we just celebrated, met friends, enjoyed and then forgot? And then wait for another 365 days to celebrate another new year. Was it just a custom, a repetition till we die and till the newer generations take the mantle from us and follow the same.

When I say New Year, it means something new in essence, something expansive, something enchanting and enlightening. You can call it enlightenment of the mind and enchantment of the heart. For me there is no contradiction between the outer and the inner. It is the fact and we all know that happiness comes from inside. Wealth, position, status do not give happiness, they can create conditions for happiness, or they can create amber of happiness, not the true, real happiness that comes from within, comes from the real life giving attitude. If I am not happy internally, I cannot be happy externally as well. The New Year hence points to something nobler; something brighter indicating that happiness comes from within, from noble deeds. And once we realize this, then I am sure sorrow would transform into joy as we will search the meaning of life within not in apparent success or failure. There will be less competition, there will be less deceit, and there will be less evil. And every New Year celebration will be like stepping-stone to this expanding consciousness, which will be reflected in our thoughts and actions.

Extending further, if human beings in collectivity work and realize this principle, nations can prosper and be happy but they have to give up the principle of national ego, and follow the principle of national collaboration. It is difficult but it is possible. Problems generating and generated by violence will vanish soon like daydream then.

Mahatma Gandhi set a beautiful principle. If you have doubt about the right course of action, then imagine the face of the poorest you have ever seen and see whether your act is going to help him, then the doubt will melt away. Can we see the Gandhian talisman in its proper perspective and do something that can bring us closer to a platform to promote human dignity and mitigate humiliation in all its form.

I think this must be message for the New Year. And if we resolve to rise above our self, then we can celebrate the New Year in its new and true spirit and help create a better family and a better world.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 29 Dec 2009.

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