‘Packaged’ Celebration: Alcoholism to Hyper Consumption on the New Year


Will the market allow us to rethink celebrations in the age of hyper-consumption and media induced images of happiness if we don’t choose to think differently?

Kabir | The New Leam 

We surely reside in a soul-less, alien, dissociated and lonely world to have become over- dependent on external stimulation’s in order to be happy.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t is during the times of celebrations that the remark made by the iconic-thinker- philosopher Karl Marx on money, resonates loud enough to make us rethink our patterns of celebrating important occasions.  Karl Marx wrote ‘The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money’.  The critical insight by which Marx looks at the relationship between life and money reminds us that quite often we tend to look at life as a mechanism to earn money rather than understanding that money is for the sustenance of the material needs of life so that we can work towards the higher goals.

Money is the means and not the destination, is basically the point that Marx was trying to caution us about but in contemporary times, we have given the entire dominance to money in our lives. This money-centric, market dictated life practice becomes abundantly clear when we look at the way we celebrate occasions such as the advent of the New Year.  

The New Year is the time of celebration for most people who would like to come together, have a party with family or friends, go out and take a break from the mundane daily chores but often the choices that we make for our celebrations show a very problematic pattern.

Who can deny the fact that the emergence of a New Year is indeed a time of celebrating, of preparing ourselves for the new projects that we wish to do in the year that is coming, think about the year that passed by and wish that our near and dear ones remain happy and fulfilled- but have our celebrations really remained innocent and pure?

The New Year’s Eve is a celebration time. The old ends and the New Year has just arrived- a new date and time have begun. This wonderful transition is celebrated all around the world. But the dominant culture of celebration  makes thousands of people uncomfortable and raises critical concerns for the society.

We must have noted that the way that markets have penetrated into our lives has meant that from celebrations of birthdays, anniversaries, religious functions, weddings and the onset of The New Year, everything is being dictated by the market forces determining our attires, food, music and the purpose of celebrating.

On any specific day whether it is a festival or birthday, the new culture of celebration seems incomplete without alcohol and loud music in addition to mindless driving, playing of loud music and long queue outside alcohol shops.

Every  shopping website offers a discount, malls have attractive prices to attract customers, travel agencies offer packages, and restaurants have attractive offers- the market dictates your celebration, defines the parameters of being happy and tells you that consumption will make one happier. Popular cinema stars release their films of Diwali, Christmas or Eid, street children walk with Santa caps with naked feet, women on the street sell miniature national flags on republic day and the world just goes on buying and buying.

Can celebration not be a manifestation our demonic materialism and can we rethink happiness in non-utilitarian ways?

From shopping therapies to reduction of beauty, happiness and celebration into commodities that can be transacted in the market- our celebrations have become more and more about consumption’s, about being passive buyers, about losing our own individual spark.   

From celebrities wearing high-end brands at their grand multi-dollar weddings, to politicians doing flood relief from their choppers high above in the sky, to cricketers doing charity for endorsing corporate brands- the market has begun to determine the way we celebrate and live our lives.  

Not to our surprise, just like every year- this year too on New Year’s Eve a woman got critically injured after she was shot at in a party at Delhi’s farmhouse.  The accused was firing celebration shots when the bullet accidentally hit the woman. The woman is critical and fighting for life.

In Chennai six men succumbed to injuries and died during celebrations of The New Year during road accidents and the Mumbai police registered 1533 cases of drunken driving on New Year’s Eve.  

The numbers of road accidents, mishaps during parties and other negative implications have increased multiple times in recent years. This phenomenon repeats every year and yet we are not compelled to rethink the pattern of consumption, the relentless need to be loud and restless rather than finding alternative modes of becoming happy.  

We surely reside in a soul-less, alien, dissociated and lonely world to have become over- dependent on external stimulation’s in order to be happy.  

Can a warm home-made dinner cooked with friends in the comfort of one’s room over stories and laughter not be explored? Can sharing the moment of celebration with the homeless on the streets who hardly get a meal a day not mark the beginning of a new year?

Can celebration not be a manifestation our demonic materialism and can we rethink happiness in non-utilitarian ways?  The New Year has finally come and it is the opportune time for us to rethink celebrations, rethink life.


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