Monday, August 6, 2007

Does Friendship need a day?

The first Sunday of August! The scraps start filling my scrapbook on Orkut & SMSes wake me up early. The occassion? Well, the much celebrated 'Friendship Day'. It is one of the most popular days in school & college circuits. The day when guys & gals tag their friends' wrists with colourful satin ribbons embossed specially for the occassion. When I was in school, even I used to celebrate this day with much fanfare. But then after one fine Friendship Day in Junior College, I happened to take a critical look on this yearly celebration, and happily that was the last Friendship Day for me.

As I write this blog, SMSes pour in. And I smile sarcastically. I wonder whether we need a day for celebrating one of the thickest bonds of human relationship - FRIENDSHIP!! Have we so much lost our essence of friendship that we need to dedicate a special day for remembering that special bond? My mind fails again and again to grasp the 'reason' behind this hyped celebration. And I am happy to be a part of the small minority which thinks the same.

Thinking about friendship, the first thing that reminds me of this word is the friendship between Krishna & Sudama or for that matter Krishna & Draupadi. Those friendships give us the proud feeling of being a part of a culture where friendship was not just a mere nomenclature of a relation. That friendship existed - and I highlight - was 'celebrated' every single day, every single hour, and every single moment. That friendship did not need a reason to be reminded or kept alive, or a memorial day. And I, for one, believe in that friendship.

Coming back to the college campus, many of the times, Friendship Day is celebrated by many who don't actually know why they are celebrating, but are gripped by peer pressure (they won't admit openly). They don't give it a second thought and are least bothered to reason out. Another ritual which is omnipresent is to decorate the wrists & hands of each other with ribbons & worse - sketch pens! (they make awesome totem poles .. ha ha). Our graffiti kings & queens sometimes don't even spare the clothes. And when its all over, the person covered the most with festoons of ribbons & pen-marks feels highly elated, counting the number of friends who have made a human canvas out of him. More closely you resemble a joker; more is your popularity quotient - that’s the unstated funda! So the marks & ribbons quantify friendships - strange!

Another aspect behind encouraging Friendship Day by the media & the business world is nothing but a commercially viable event! Friendship is looked upon as a commodity which can set your cash registers jingling; and we don't feel sad about the commercialization of friendship at all! The satin ribbons & friendship bands become abound at every corner shop, while the shopkeepers sell them at twice or thrice the cost as compared to any other day when no one gives a damn about them. Well ... its another of those 'Friendship' gifts for the Chinese production houses! Also, I don't need to elaborate on the statistics of single day profits for telecom players who happily provide SMS services to cater the 'wishes' of its consumers (pun intended!). Its a profitable day for them. So why won't they promote the festivities?

By now many of you who are disagreeing with me on this issue must be thinking that I am writing this blog, filled with jingoistic culturalism. But believe me, my lines of thought are different from the fundamentalists who don't even know why they vandalize a gift shop on Valentines' Day (read between the lines!) Maybe we both are antagonists of such events, but its the thought behind the antagonism that differs and counts. Moreover, I wouldn't & won't ever link this to being something against our rich, magnanimous, fertile Indian culture nor being anything which seems typically anti-West (a very handy tool if you can't think of anything else). Most people relating such events to their popular outcry of 'anti-West' don't even know what is to be opposed in being so-called 'Anti-West'. No! I won't ever resort to such arguments.

My argument is simple & straightforward, which should arise in any questioning & thinking mind. Celebrating is not the objection, but the justification of motive behind celebration is in question. Every action has a motive & if that motive is inconsistent & irrational with respect to the action, the whole essence of action is at loss & becomes a subject of mockery for the rational mind.

So next time you pick up that dazzling friendship band or pick up your cell phone to send friendship day messages, its my friendly advice to you to let your mind give it a little thought.


nehudfriend said...

Dear Mihir,
OK maybe ur been over critical here. Arey, I celebrate friendship's day, but don't remember ever buying a friendship band . Ever! n none of my best friends buy one too. We've never even discussed about it as yet for the past 8 years of our friendship.

Commercialisation of anything or any day is a profit makers idea but the way u celebrate a day is ur wish. When ppl say they recognise Mother's day doesn't mean they don't love their mom all through the year n remember her only on that day. Its just when you go that extra mile in showing that u love ur mom. you can choose any day or days for that matter, what matters is what u feel n not what u give or do on that day.

As a matter of fact I didn't even get to meet my friends because of bad weather but that doesn't matter.

See, when friends n seniors who are now settled in various parts of the country call u or remember you, you do feel nice!

a said...

Seems to me, u r bring critical just for the sake of criticising. Theres another way to look at it- as a festival of friendship. When we celebrate various festivals thru the yr, does it mean dat we dont think of the deities for the rest of the year? Or is the acompanying commercialisation forgivable just coz its in th name of religion? Its just one special day set aside to remember people who make our life a little better, be it mother's day, father's day, or valentine's day. And yes what would u say about one more satin band which a sister ties on her brother's wrist in ur very own rich, magnanimous, fertile culture??
Though the current way of expressing frndshp on college campuses is most unaesthetic,(to use quite a mild word) it does not defy the spirit behind the celebration, to those who understand it. Anyways, its a lot better than firecrackers, idol immersion n the totally senseless waste of water on rangpanchami, which is even less aesthetic(again to express it quite mildly).

mihirtronics said...

asilata, pls don't compare Raksha Bandhan with Friendship Day. I don't think its right to compare the two. Raksha Bandhan has a long legacy to it, whereas Friendship Day is just another 'reason' to celebrate.
So-called friends remember you out of the blues on this day, just for the sake of it.
As far as commercialization is concerned, agreed that it goes with Diwali too, but the very celebration of the Festival of Lights has significance in our life and traditions, which are no way close to Friendship Day.
Yes, its much milder than the firecrackers..Totally support u on that view.
And one more thing, do not infer the same stance about other days too. For eg, Valentines; Day is reasonable enough coz it celebrates the life of St. Valentine. Does Friendship Day have any such occasion.
But, hey, thanks for your views and criticisms too. Much appreciated!!

kelkarnandini said...

Well i believe in the fact tht life is a celebration.!....." So one shud celebrate n enjoy every moment..Also we are fortunate enuf to be born in India,land of reason" for celebration ..almost every month.
i think thers added advantage of celebrating the so called days of the west...[for those who do so]
I feel instead of justifying the reason" for celebration...why not accept their ways with a smile...:)
Also it is upto us after all asin in what way and with what feeling we are celebrating...

a said...

Well Mihir now u make it sound like a festival or any celebration gets sanction on two grounds- either it has to be religious or it has to be celebrated for centuries (or both). In that case, we'll just have to wait for a couple of centuries more and then I guess friendship day will be one more thread in our cultural fabric.
This reminds me of a saying by Kalidas. I dont remember the exact words, but the gist was, that all that is old is not to be accepted blindly, nor is everything new to be rejected, but both are subject to the test of reason.
Since Kalidas has historical significance, I guess u will agree.

mihirtronics said...

i don't agree just because its age old or has certain importance relating the day, hence the celebration. What Kalidas says is true.... but our traditions have an underlying message or importance which we should not forget! Its never the question of old or new...