Let’s fight loneliness this Diwali

Diwali is a festival that is celebrated with great aplomb all across India. Over the years, it has transcended the religious barriers to become a festival that truly celebrates the spirit of the nation. It has come to symbolise togetherness and is an occasion which spreads joy and brings a smile on faces. While many of us are happy basking in the glory of the festival, have we ever thought of that lone woman who spends the day far removed from festivities, that one friend who gets irritated by the incessant forwards on his Whatsapp or the dogs on the streets who run helter-skelter unable to bear the sound of firecrackers. The answer most probably is a no.
The multiple stories surrounding the reason why Diwali is celebrated prove that it is not the symbolism but the spirit of oneness that needs to be celebrated. In the fast-paced life of today, many of us have withdrawn into a shell afraid that we might be infringing on somebody’s private space if we start a conversation. At an age where migration is the norm, many fail to realise that loneliness is an issue that needs to be addressed. Uprooting oneself from a cultural setting and adapting to another environment is never easy. Such cultural fragmentation brings with it social isolation. That is when some people resort to aggression as a defensive mechanism to deal with their loneliness. The old uncle in your neighbourhood who has become a familiar figure in picking fights with anybody and everybody might be doing so because any interaction with others makes him feel less lonely. The spinster who keeps to herself might be doing so because she is still trying to adjust to an alien culture. Perhaps for the man who expresses his displeasure at the impersonal forwards, what is really required is a personal message asking him how he plans to spend the festival. And for the dogs in the neighbourhood, a noiseless Diwali is most definitely the perfect gift that humans can give.
So, this Diwali let us all make an effort to spread light in as many lives as we can. Let it be an occasion where everyone is given a chance to make new memories instead of holding on to the new ones. Let us all finally acknowledge the fact that loneliness and the resulting depression are issues that need our intervention. One phone call to a friend whom you haven’t called in a long time, a box of sweets for your neighbour and an invitation to join in the festivities are gestures that can be made without much effort. A little empathy can go a long way in making this Diwali delightful for those around. Let the excited chatter of one family not be the reason for someone else to relive painful memories from the past and withdraw into a cocoon. The spirit of Diwali is to spread joy and happiness to people all around. Anything other than that will only be mere imagery.

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