In Mauritius, Maha Shivratree is celebrated with great pomp, enthusiasm and devotion. Preparations for the festival start a month before, as the pilgrims will be making beautifully decorated 'kanwars' which they will carry on their way to and back from Grand Bassin. On this occasion, the Government will bestow full freedom to the pilgrims ; the police force will be at its peak during the pilgrimage, ensuring the safety of pilgrims while volunteers will offer food, fruits, juice and arrange for resting or sleeping spots for them. All this is done, so that the festival goes on smoothly.
What a wonderful island we have ! Wait, why is the image blurring now ? Oh, was I dreaming ? Indeed ! I need to wake up. You need to wake up. We need to wake up. Heidegger's hammer should break, for us to become conscious of what is happening underneath this beautiful and serene picture of celebration.
The Hindu tradition is simple : You make a 'kanwar' or a 'trishul' and carry it to Ganga Talao. But why is there the need to exaggerate so much ? The making of 'kanwar' has become a craze among youngsters to show off whose 'kanwar' is better, bigger and more beautifully decorated ! It is a pilgrimage, people, not a fancy 'kanwar' competition, where the rat race is on : whose Kanwar is bigger ? Why do you have to make such majestic fancy 'kanwars' when the Lord never asked for this exaggeration and show off ? Not only are these excessively huge 'kanwars' heavy, time-consuming and costly in their fabrications, they become a hindrance and a danger for the pilgrims and road users. Carrying heavy 'kanwars' will surely exhaust the pilgrims, and this can result in the weakening of their reflexes and their carelessness on the road. It is a clear sign of irresponsibility towards others and inconvenience caused to others, as big 'kanwars' occupy almost half of the road's space, thus creating major traffic jams, slow traffics and a heightened risk of road accidents. I am not condemning pilgrims for carrying 'kanwars' ; simply, be reasonable and do not exaggerate in size. Also, while walking, be careful enough not to occupy the middle of the roads.
Remix… fun, isn't it ? My goodness, youngsters, there is a highly significant difference between pop music and holy chants. You use remix version of the devotional prayers. Pilgrims need to feel the soothing effects of the prayers, which have the miraculous powers to encourage pilgrims in their sacrifices. Why do you want to distort the sacred feeling into something ridiculous ? This is a pilgrimage, not a discotheque ! Do not radiate the wrong essence of devotion !
Dear pilgrims, the very making of BIG 'kanwars' is problematic in the ways mentioned above. Now, you use plastic to make the 'kanwars' ; therefore, the bigger the 'kanwar' is, the more plastic you use. Right ? After the festival, some people immerse the 'kanwars' in rivers. The plastics used in the 'kanwar' will remain in the rivers for a long period. This will cause pollution of our rivers and possible deaths of aquatic plants and animals. Think about it ! During the pilgrimage, many generous souls distribute food and drinks to the pilgrims. A good work, but do you realize that the streets become dumping grounds- the streets are lined up with plastic plates, plastic cups and leftovers, which are real nuisances and eyesores for other passers-by. Dear pilgrims, value the food given to you (if you do not want to eat, do not take it to later throw it) and respect the environment. Local authorities should play their roles here by arranging for more dustbins along the way to Grand Bassin.
I wonder if all these exaggerations are the products of our Mauritian Exceptionalism.
Maha Shivratree is a pious festival, so live it spiritually, not exaggeratedly ! To end, I pray that Lord Shiva bestows His grace on the world.