IT IS ONAM TODAY AND THE MOOD IS decidedly upbeat in all Malayali homes the world over. Come October it will be Eid and after Christmas celebrations, the year will soon draw to a close.  No one disputes the cultural necessity and importance of festivals particularly when they become an occasion when family ties are renewed and quarrels forgotten even if at times they remain merely as rituals, a kind of forced participation for conformity.

FESTIVALS ARE A GREAT TIME FOR INDULGENCES too and money is not an issue.  Only a couple of days ago, escorted by 75 policemen, around 500 residents of Pulianthope, in Chennai, immersed into the sea a silver idol of Ganesha weighing 19 kg.  It cost INR 1.9 mn (say USD 31,000 at current exchange rates).  India celebrates so many festivals and one could come up with umpteen unique examples, each interesting in its own way.  I am only waiting for tomorrow’s newspaper from Kerala which will also document the sale of liquor that is very likely to surpass last year’s record !  All of this does not of course belittle the authentic need for celebrations and of the rich culture that surrounds them.

I KEEP WONDERING HOWEVER WHY EVERY DAY should not be an occasion to celebrate particularly when despite all the uncertainty surrounding us we are still alive to all the possibilities that life has to offer !  The sheer brevity of life itself should prod us to savor and make the most of every minute that unfolds before us.  If we consider our time and that of others precious it would be celebration time always and we don’t need a death sentence rendered to us by a terminal disease to force us to count every minute that slips by.

I RECENTLY READ AN EXTRAORDINARY BOOK titled “Rapt – Attention and the Focused Life” by Winifred Gallagher (Penguin Books-2009) where the quote from William James on its fly page hits you: “My experience is what I attend to”.  Attention is all – it shapes our inner experience and allows us to feel and enjoy what it means to be fully alive.  Towards the end of the book, the author beautifully paraphrases the poet Milton – “Heaven or Hell ?  It will depend on what we focus on”.  There is also this brilliant quote from Byrant: “No moment comes twice. If you don’t attend to it, you miss it. If you want to smell the roses, you have to linger.”


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