Twelve months have faded away like the stars, and it feels like yesterday. Here again, we are on the eve of another new year with full of hopes. Everyone, in Sri Lanka, expected so many changes, year on year, particularly from the dawn of January 2015, with full of optimism and expectations once the 'Yahapalanaya' Government was elected to office. Nearly three years have lapsed since, yet the outlook has become grim and dismal with corruption, bribery, and politicians becoming labelled as 'deal captains'! With the much speculated local government council elections due in February 2018, people need to pull out their crystal ball once again to have a vigilant look in a mindful manner, if and to whom, they should vote for.
At the dawning of every New Year, people all over the world adopt their own style of celebrations. After all, New Year comes but once a year! During this transition, many like to adopt new promises to reach their expected goals with great zeal. The current trend is such that one cannot possibly escape from the commercial hype, which has been conditioned in the minds of the modern society. Nothing gets in the New Years' Eve groove than to visit a dance at a five star hotel, disco or a nightclub to blast away the old year.
First of January is declared as a public holiday in most countries, but in Sri Lanka. However, with the Duruthu Poya falling this year, it makes a holiday this year. Banks in Sri Lanka, generally on the 1st of January, take full advantage of their customer base by inviting, welcoming and serving them with traditional Kiri Bath and sweet meats, in order to subtly condition customers to invest additional sums of money in the form of fixed deposits or opening up of new saving accounts with baits as incentives! They call it the 'ganu denu' tradition, which people at large, tend to believe as part of the Sri Lankan tradition.
The crucial issue, which crops up year on year, during New Year celebrations, is the diverse opinion of various groups. Those who are passionately dedicated to religious principles deem to think that organizing and/or participating in New Year's Eve dances, to usher in a new year, and spending excessive amounts of money will only add more and more fuel to the ever-increasing commercial hype. "What do they gain out of such endeavours, except for momentary pleasure out of vigorous pelvic thrust in ' slow-slow-quick-quick tempo' & serious bogeying and tripping the light fantastic to the strains of rock, pop and Latin American rhythms", they argue. Being somewhat holy, they would rather prefer to participate in an overnight Pirith ceremony, or visit a holy abode, according to one's faith, and receive religious blessings, in order to wash their past year's sins before starting afresh, on new resolutions to become better persons!
They, therefore, point a finger particularly at men, who get intoxicated beyond a state of oblivion, and struggle to emulate the British aristocracy in what they have seen or heard in George Bernard Shaw's play, Pygmalion ('My Fair Lady,') and expect their partners to escort them home by taxis, at early hours of the morning of the new year, after getting drunk and due to the high level of 'spirit' within their systems. What is more embarrassing, they say, would be, when they start singing the national anthem 'namo namo maatha' in their drunken jolly mood and getting choked due to excessive consumption of Champagne, Black Label or Shiva's Regal that have given fire within their systems.
Contrary to such beliefs, party goers pay no heed to such adverse criticism, and seem to believe that as long as they do not harm anyone, there is nothing wrong in painting the town red, as it were, on the new year's eve, at their own expense, because it's their prerogative to merry make on the new year's eve. However, by and large, the general consensus appears to be that it would be far better if everyone thinks alike to help the poor, helpless and the needy in the society, rather than being selfish and self-centered, especially during the festive season, and not to waste money on razzmatazz or jollifications.
As a consequence of severe droughts and flooding of late, thousands of farmer families across the country have become penniless; added to such trauma, an unsolved battle between man and the wild elephant has managed to push some to commit suicide, after losing their lifetime accumulations. All in all, there are thousands of families on the breadline, due to the exorbitant cost of living prevailing at present, where not even could they afford a paltry meal out of pol sambol, as the coconut and rice prices have gone through the roof. Therefore, it stands to reason as to why only a tiny minority of town folk should spend lavishly at various tourist hotels to have a ‚ Waltzing Matilda' scenarios until dawn!
Watching this cat and mouse game, one would assume, it is nothing but due to family, and social backgrounds of individuals, and such practices will never leave them, as long as they are entrapped in a presumptuous society. Let's hope the rulers in this country will make sensible New Year resolutions in the coming year, and observe the codes of ethics in humanitarianism, rather than restricting actions to portentous speeches.
New Year is the best time to update man's dictionary of life, where removal of words such as jealousy, hate, revenge and greed, by replacing those with new words like, love, care, compassion and honesty in its place.
Wishing everyone a prosperous and a healthy 2018.