Turn the Idiot Box Off, Share the Warm Pleasures of One's Family

Published: 12th September 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th September 2015 11:25 PM   |  A+A-

It happened recently – during the Onam holidays. At first I hadn’t noticed it. But then, as always, it was my better half who drew my attention to that strange, but welcome phenomenon.  Here is how it happened. This year’s Onam celebrations had been the discussions, on and off, for almost the whole of the past year. Whenever we relatives used to meet each other for weddings, house warming ceremonies, other festivals, so on and so forth, a pet, recurrent theme had been how best to celebrate Onam.

Thus, after umpteen discussions and arguments, my wife, her sister and her close cousin came to a decision that the best way to celebrate Onam was to be together with their families at one place. Since I had recently relocated to Kozhikode, the decision to celebrate this year’s Onam there came easily. As Onam neared, our families came together to Kozhikode one by one. Brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, daughters, daughters-in-law, grandparents, all flocked to our house at Kozhikode.

Talking at the top of their voices all these relatives literally went back in time. Old, forgotten jokes and incidents were dug up and retold with renewed vigour; forgotten incidents were brought back to memory, colourfully embroidered with newer hues; cousins teased and pulled the legs of other cousins; colourful stories about so and so uncle’s famous escapades were enjoyed again by the newer generation; the older generation shared stories about old traditions and family rituals; folk songs were sung and childhood games like touch-me-not and scoring an underpass beneath the swings were reenacted. One of the centrepieces of the get-together was the sumptuous meals prepared at different times of the day. Boiled bananas, succulent dosas, strong and sweet tea, the traditional kalan in a semi-solid form, not to forget the sweet payasam – all were made, served and enjoyed with verve and enthusiasm.

All of us savoured the joys of travelling in a group during the three days. Travelling as a tight-knit family, travelling alone, travelling as a part of a large group – each is an experience in itself. One cannot replace the other; neither can it be said that one is superior to the other. One of the more important facets of travelling in a large group is the formation of special micro groups within the large group. But the festive season gave this interplay of group dynamics an aura of give-and-take and an atmosphere of goodwill. It was as if the pleasant weather, the profusion of flowers, the bright sunlight and the open air – all had gelled together in some unique proportion to form a mindset that had as its cornerstone the philosophy of Maveli – the everlasting motif of Onam. In simple words, the message by Maveli can be phrased thus: man is inherently honest and kind. It is ego and the fleeting excitement of holding someone or something under one’s power that creates all the fight for control and power among mankind! 

We noticed the strange phenomenon only on the second day. All the umpteen TV channels had been announcing special programmes, re-run of popular movies, interviews and game shows featuring cine and TV idols on Onam days. If one were to closely follow the promos aired by these channels, the whole Onam would have gone by in front of the TV. In retrospect it seems strange; but, none of us were wont to slump in front of the channels. There was so much more to do. So much to talk, so much to tease, so much to play, so much to help each other, so much to know from each other and about each other. Such activities beat the passive sitting in front of TV kind of entertainment hollow! For the first time, in so many months, the TV was no longer the master of the house. It lay unheeded in one corner of the room!

Moral: good company and activities galore are the real entertainment. Here you are the entertainer as well as the one being entertained. The one-way entertainment meted out by the electronic channels does not stand even the slightest competition to the enjoyment of the company of loved ones and the excitement of doing things together with many!

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