After putting it off for some days now, with the benefit of having some prior engagements rescheduled at the last moment, my wife and I finally dropped by a Deepavali bazaar, last Friday. We just wanted to take a look at what was on offer at a nearby bazaar. With the times being what it is, we decided to go with a strict budget, one of the low-budget type. This was to be a reconnaissance only trip. Yes, strictly window shopping only. At least, that was the plan.
So there we were, moving from one stall to the other. Looking at clothes of all shapes and sizes. Clothes in all shades of colour, all sorts of texture, decorated with simple to intricate patterns and designed for adults and children, as well as for men and women. There were stalls that offered all the mouth-watering delicacies that one can’t help indulge in, never mind what the doctor says. Delicacies ranging from the sinfully sweet candies to the ever so crunchy murukku.
Then there were the stalls offering an array of accessories for the women to match with their beautiful and vibrant outfits. The accessories ranged from bangles made out of metal and glass to ear-rings of all sizes and designs. There were stalls displaying incense stick-like sparkles, boxes of the noisy pop pops and some packets of firework. There were also stalls that sold decorations to spruce up the house for the upcoming festivities.
Having walked among the stalls from one end to the other, taking in all the sights, while trying to speak with each other over the cacophony of various songs blaring out of the speakers, my wife asked me a question. She asked, if I noticed something or more accurately said, if I noticed the absence of something. She mentioned that she did not notice any greeting cards displayed for sale at any of the stalls we passed by and asked if I noticed any.
Now, I am not sure about other bazaars as we have only been to one thus far but I was quite certain that there were no greeting cards being sold at the bazaar that we were at. In fact, I was not even looking for it as I had not planned to send one nor have I sent out a Deepavali greeting card in years. It took me a while to recall when I last gave someone or mailed out a physical Deepavali card. I think it was some time in the 00s, that I gave or posted a Deepavali greeting card.
That’s when it struck me, how technology has in some ways, changed the way we celebrate festivals with our loved ones and friends. At the turn of the century, with increasing access to the internet and emails, greeting cards were slowly replaced by electronic cards or better known as e-cards. E-cards, made up of a mix of colourful texts and images to short animated clips, conveyed the same greetings, albeit electronically, replacing the need for physical greeting cards. Sending e-cards was also faster and cost almost close to nothing.
This expanded further to the usage of MMS as a form of greeting during festive season. Then, as the usage of smart phone and with it, messengers like Whatsapp, became widespread, usage of e-cards themselves dwindled. They made way for even more creative messages, sent out via messengers in the form of text, images or even short animations. These could easily be edited with personal messages or simply be reused and sent out immediately to others in the contact list. These messages can be sent out in an instant, to a large number of people, all within a few clicks and best of all, from the comfort of one’s own home instead of a trip to the post office.
With lesser greeting cards being sent around one other aspect of the festivities also changed. Back in the days of the physical greeting cards, it was quite common for the cards themselves to be part of the festive decorations. The colourful physical cards of all sorts of design, would be placed on the tables and adorn the walls during the festive season. These days, there are less or zero cards being used as decorations. Besides, I don’t recall seeing anyone having printed versions of MMS, e-cards or messages from messengers, used as festive decorations, at least.
Technology, to an extent has changed the way we celebrate and share the festive joy with our loved ones and friends. It has made it easier and faster, to send greetings and wishes to others during the festive season. It has even saved us the embarrassing realisation of not having sent out a card to someone who took the trouble to buy, write and send out a greeting card to us. Besides, it may have helped us in some ways, to be environmentally friendly during the festive season.
As my wife and I drove back after our visit to the bazaar, I wondered how much more would technology change the way we celebrate festivals. With online shopping and the availability of everything and anything on it, I did wonder if festive bazaars like the one that I just left, would survive in the current form or change in any way to be relevant with the current times. In case you are wondering, our plan of a reconnaissance only trip to the Deepavali bazaar, it failed miserably. I suppose one can’t do “window” shopping at a bazaar, among stalls that lacked windows. No, the change in plan was not affected by technology. It was simply a battle than the mind lost, over matter.
P.S.: The image of the vilakku was sourced from Pixabay.
P.P.S.: Yes, I am hoping to post more regularly, instead of one every few months. Hope that the next one will be up around Deepavali.