Goddess Saraswati might probably be laughing her heart out, looking at us going crazy lengths about fashion, on her birthday. She’s probably like, ‘I don’t mean to interrupt in your gaiety but um…that’s not really what I am about!’

One good step that I saw the otherwise Facebook-frenzied youth take up seriously this year is to demand a stop to the consumerist culture of holding the most beautiful or well-dressed college girl contests on TV channels during Saraswati Puja. Dibrugarh University went ahead and closed the gates on the media, requesting not to tarnish the frolic of the occasion. Good job, y’all! The point of argument here is – how can you hurt a girl who cannot afford a trip to the salon or an eye-catching mekhela chador by comparing her to someone who can? My point is, even if someone can afford all that, it isn’t necessary that one would. One might choose to dress less ostentatiously or wear no makeup and simply enjoy the occasion, which in the first place, arose from a rather academic purpose. This is an impressionable age; an age when envy or attention from someone means excitement and fun. In this age-specific rivalry which will phase out in no time, why beat the confidence out of those poor kids who will think twice before they get out on Saraswati Puja, whether they look camera-grabbing pretty or not? Is this what we want our women to think of themselves? If we teach them that looking prettier than the other marks them higher on the desirable ladder, are we not misguiding them for the future?

saraswati-puja-in-assam-images-7Yes, we too dressed up on this day when we were their age. And no, media weren’t going ballistic about who wore what. We had our share of fun alright; but now in hindsight, I think we needlessly made a big deal out of a simple religious ritual. Whoever told us that taking the blessings from the goddess was necessary for better results, didn’t foresee that in future, many of us might become atheists or simply be nonchalant towards such hullabaloo. Many among the present throng of pretty young women would probably alter their beliefs too, about religion, the world as well as men.

What ought to be done instead, is put a stop to the fashion parade and play a different game. Since Saraswati Puja is a day of education, we should have something that works towards testing the aptitudes of the youth. Maybe we could hold career-oriented, fun-fairs where they could be meeting stars from different fields of achievement and getting a close-up of how they want their lives to look, some years later. Maybe one of those options could be fashion. People who want to become models could dress up and walk the ramp. People who love to stitch and style could showcase their design. Those dabbling in creative writing could take a writing contest, or read out their work to an interested panel. A person who loves acting could attend a drama workshop, meet actors/directors/scriptwriters or enact his/her own play. Someone who wants to be a journalist could interact with well-known journalists or be given a make-believe situation or event to cover. Those loving to fiddle with tech could showcase their engineering skills, software or hardware. Those loving music or art could likewise paint, sculpt and learn from renowned artists. CSR activities could sponsor students who excel here, for a break, in their own chosen field. And who knows, maybe someone could come up with scholarship options too. And in doing all this, maybe someone professionally looking for new recruits could find their next apprentice. Isn’t it way cooler than strutting around in designer dresses waiting for someone to capture you in video-cam?

We already have Valentine’s Day for love, romance, flirting and proposals, don’t we? Why make Saraswati Puja another Valentine’s Day where love for Saraswati is less and display is more? Besides, if we consciously steer clear of the tradition of dress-up, maybe media can find something better to cover too.

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