A few days ago, there was some festival at a temple. A kid, not more than five years old, spilt some oil she had brought for lighting the lamps in the temple. She got a sound trashing from her mother for this.
Festivals are meant to be celebrated. They are not just rituals. If we convert the festivals into just rituals, we will be just left with a tired body and mind. We may also end up screwing up the ritual itself. I have seen the tension building up in several households during festivals. On the festival day, chaos breaks out due to the tension.
People 'celebrate' festivals mechanically. There is no shraddha. When we celebrate a festival, our mind must totally be with God.
There is another extreme. For some 'celebrating' festivals means having fun. What type of fun? During Shivratri or Vaikunta Ekadesi, theatres in Tamil Nadu screen movies in the night. You can buy a ticket and watch two, or sometimes even three movies. And the movies have nothing to do with religion. They are commercial potboilers. What is the point in waking up in the night during Shivratri to watch scantily-clad heroines? Do you expect anyone in the audience to think of Shiva or Vishnu?
In my flat, when I went back home at midnight, (no, I wasnt waking up for shivratri. I reach home only at around midnight)the women - young and old - were playing dice!
The problem here is both the festivals have become just rituals. All the people do is to wake up the whole night. In Gujarat, there is a sharp spurt in abortions a few months after Navrathri. Everyone freaks out. The only time they think about God is during aarthi. Later, its free-for-all.
It's time we bring spirituality back to festivals.