Celebrate Quietly, Quietly

I am in Mumbai now, in the middle of the Navratri celebrations, one of the many festivals which crowd out the Indian Calendar right through the year.

There are so many festivals in India going on that one cannot be blamed for losing track. Foreigners usually feign ignorance, and if Indians themselves have trouble keeping track, we cannot blame foreigners to have appreciation of so many festivals.

This post is not about the festivals or about foreigners in India.

It is simply that I get annoyed with the sound disturbances which emanate from all corners of the city, irrespective of the time of the day. Sometimes the loud sound and music go on well past midnight, though the Supreme Court of India has prohibited playing loud sounds after 10 PM and before 6 AM.

Nevertheless, patrons of festivals in road corners blare out loud music and plays on a continuous basis right through the day when they are indeed allowed to do so – there seems to be no decibel limit imposed on them by the government or the courts of law.

And, I found one thing – most educated, upper middle class Indians are highly tolerant towards such disturbances. Their finer world view does not seem to encompass festivals at all. Anything to do with a religious festival gets the highest level of acceptance and tolerance from even the most educated Indians – even from those who have returned to India after living abroad for a long time, or even from those who are visiting India on a holiday. They all seem to be enjoying the sound and music that they had missed while living abroad.

Living overseas does provide a freedom from disturbances such as these loud music and road performances. There is none whatsoever, except during carnivals which do not happen in the residential areas anyway. In cities like Singapore, there is virtually no noise of any sort for 95% of the year.

I think it is important not to disturb folks of differing religious beliefs, and further it is most important that disturbance of any kind is avoided irrespective of whether it is religion-denominated or not. What is wrong with celebrating in a quiet manner ? It is not necessary that everyone around you should know that you are celebrating, and doing that with fanfare and a lot of noise.

This is of course, my own opinion. I am sure there are folks who will always disagree, and there would be many who would say that celebration without sound and light is no celebration at all. But all should agree that noise during more than 50% of the year should be unacceptable, and that noise which is incessant right through the day is not something one has to live with.


Vijay Srinivasan
6th October 2013


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