Revitalizing Pongal and Rural India
Pongal, a celebration of the harvest, is a tradition thousands of years old. But today, its vitality is ebbing, and rural India is losing its spirit. Sadhguru speaks about the urgent need to revitalize rural India and its traditions.
Sadhguru: India is a country where we had 365 different festivals for 365 days of the year. The whole culture was in a state of celebration. If today was plowing day, it was a kind of celebration. If tomorrow was planting day, there was another kind of celebration. If the day after tomorrow was weeding, that was a celebration. Harvesting of course, is still a celebration which is the Pongal or Sankranti festival.
But in the last twenty years, the life of a rural person in India has gone down so terribly. The old systems have completely broken up and nothing new has come up to support him. For example, during Pongal, farmers would put make-up on their bulls, paint them so colorfully, and walk on the street with tremendous pride. But today he is ashamed of taking out these two bulls, simply because he has attended school till the fifth standard. You don’t know what kind of damage it does to his life, because there is nothing else for him to do, nothing else to live for.
Agriculture, just as a means of remuneration, is a heartbreaking process. Joyless agriculture will lead to all the farmer suicides and other things that we are seeing today. When people worked on the land with a very deep connection to it, there was a different feeling about it. The thing about our country is, though we have almost no agricultural infrastructure as such in the rural areas, we are producing food for 1.2 billion people. This is a feat that our farmers have achieved because of the traditional strength of knowledge that they have, which today is being eroded in a huge way for which we will pay a price. If our ability to produce food for this one billion people goes away, we as a nation could break up.
It is very important that rural revitalization happens. This is not something a government can do. A government can change policies and give economic opportunity, but a government cannot go and change each and every individual’s life. People keep asking me, “What to do? The government does not have resources.” Today, corporations have become so large, they are nations by themselves. Each industry can take up one taluk in the country to set up training, education, healthcare – not as charity – but as a long term investment. If you do this, in 10 years’ time you have a fabulous human resource, dedicated and loyal to you. Industry has to partner with the government, NGOs, and the concerned people, and put it into action on the ground. We always think India is 120 crore people. That is not the way to think. Think of one district, and just transform it. We have just been talking about it for too long. This has to happen!
An appeal: You can support Isha in reviving the spirit of rural India this Pongal. Isha volunteers will initiate a mass action on Tuesday, 15 January, to revive the spirit of celebration in rural communities in Tamil Nadu. Over 40,000 people will learn traditional folk dances, and will dance and celebrate Pongal together on a massive scale!
Through this initiative, entire villages will renew the spirit of Pongal, thus re-energising communities, restoring people’s spirits, and bringing back the timeless act of expressing gratitude through a high-spirited celebration.