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Big car, bigger wedding: When will we find out the biggest cost we are paying for our oversized dreams?

We equate excess with success. Progress with profusion.

 |  5-minute read |   19-11-2018
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We are a country of many — many cultures, many languages, many regions and many opinions.

Of all our quirks as a colossal community, one habit stands out like the glaring foible it is; our unflinching inclination for all things elaborate!

We've invariably been fed with this idea that 'bigger is better'. Be it our traditions, our faith, our families or our festivities; we like to 'super-size' it all!

baraat_111818063647.jpgWe must make some noise when we get married. (Photo: Reuters)

Our weddings are an opulent production, our festivals are unrestrained, our events are extravagant, and the waste these cause is uncurbed.

If our weddings weren't as ostentatious, we could channelise that monetary fortune on our actual marriages.

If our festivities weren't as elaborate, we could better value the moral amidst the madness.

If our events were organised with more consciousness, we'd have reduced wastage and polluted less.

It's been said before that if moral science and civics were given equal importance as core sciences and mathematics, we'd be better rounded individuals with a balanced sensibility towards not just the hard facts and statistics, but also a well-cultivated sense of compassion. Both, necessary aspects of human existence.

immersion_111818063751.jpgBigger the better: Be it anything, our motto remains the same. (Photo: Reuters)

India needs education. And not just textbook tutelage drilled into the young minds, but a more evolved enlightenment that covers all bases and reaches out to all ranks of society.

It needs to start from the grassroots level. It needs to percolate into every idea of excessiveness we have. Even something as unassuming as our grandmothers coaxing and encouraging little 'Guddus' everywhere to have more 'laddus'!

It needs to not be okay that these very 'Guddus' grow up and amount to not very much, but their loved ones take comfort in the fact that, at least, they're well fed.

mass-wedding_111818063931.jpgLess grandeur is not less respect, but we don't subscribe to that idea. (Photo: Reuters)

This isn't to curb the love and pure joy of growing up with doting families, but in fact to raise awareness early on about moderation and basic good health.

In a social and political climate where erecting enormous statues takes precedence over improving infrastructure, advancing healthcare, upgrading sanitation and providing safety to our women and children; one cannot help but wonder about India's priorities.

With a smoky Diwali recently gone by where Delhi saw toxic air levels inspite of the Supreme Court ban on most firecrackers, one also wonders whether we get our jollies from breaking the rules.

fire_111818064005.jpgWe equate progress with profusion. (Photo: Reuters)

We're under the impression that if our cars aren't swanky, we have't quite arrived in life, if our homes aren't decked up with the latest trimmings, we're living too simply, and if our demeanours aren't bombastic enough, no one will take notice.

If it isn't "all that", it isn't worth talking about; and oh boy, do we love to talk!

We equate excess with success.

Is this the sign of the times, the normalising of our many indulgences?

Looking back to a few decades ago, we lived comparatively much simpler and frugal lives. And I believe we were happier.

Content with a few possessions, fortunate to get enough sunshine and satisfied with the allowances our elders gave us.

We now live in a time where the faster your speeds, the more you shall achieve. Be it technology or travel, we want larger screens and higher horsepower.

We want more, because more is being made available. We seek to earn more, because there is more for the taking. We are now trained to be unsatisfied.

We equate progress with profusion.

It would be nice to take some time out and smell the roses, quite literally, in fact.

Making our connection with the environment stronger is the need of the hour.

In this case and at this juncture, it wouldn't be all bad to take a step back and evaluate the significance of making responsible choices in our everyday lives.

yamuna_111818064048.jpgThe price we are paying for all our excesses is big too. (Photo: Reuters)

Taking a moment to really distinguish our needs from our wants.

We need clean air, clean water and clean soil. But we end up wanting some of the very things that keep us from that.

The key is to realise that it doesn't take massive efforts to make that difference.

Our festivities don't need more food than we can eat, but we want the thrill of variety. Our events don't need megawatt music that is amped up higher than comfortable human decibels. Our religion doesn't demand gaudy displays of reverence or exasperating parades that bring traffic to a standstill. Our occasions need not be garnished with outrageous festoons, lights and spangles. It only leads us to having more to clean up, throw out or deal with.

It's trendy to talk about the environment nowadays.

shopping_111818064146.jpgOur hands are always full, because we don't differentiate between what we need and what we want. (Photo: Reuters)

Everyone's throwing around the words, "eco-friendly" and "sustainable", but not everyone is putting into practice the little things we can do to sustain and support the environment.

Habits like turning off appliances, lights and fans when not in use conserve so much energy, not to mention saving money too! Taps and faucets too can be shut off or used to a minimal when required.

Shop wisely; be it clothing, home essentials or groceries. Buy what you know you need and reuse what you already have.

Recycle or reuse plastics and styrofoam. Avoid one-time use materials as far as possible. There are now greener options and substitutes for most of these.

Upcycle or repurpose things like furniture and accessories and breathe new life into them, thus reducing the amount of discarded waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill, taking several years or never biodegrading.

At the risk of sounding pedantic, I echo the words of social activist, Howard Zinn: "We don't have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world."

Also Read: No dividing line: Why North and South India are bound together in their love for anarchy

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Writer

Irisha Poonawalla Irisha Poonawalla @danceofdivinity

Writer, dancer, lifestyle teacher

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