Friday, 1 January 2016

What's so new about a new year?

The last night, as most of Chandigarh was revving up in its usual panache for one remarkable celebration, I was pretty much alone. So I went to this nearby Elante mall to ensure I'd have a late night supper, and so that I could at least fetch a moment between people when the clock would strike 12. The crowds in the pubs were brimming with fervor, and the air all over the place was ecstatic. But when I tried to observe things around me carefully, the celebration and the zest, were all linked to a concept, and one which is not cosmic or a man made behemoth, but simply one frail concept that glorifies the insignia of this world's most followed religion. So, I asked myself. What's so new about a new year?

Being a Hindu, I know that our calendar has its own beginnings and we have many calendars. Being an avid information hunter I also know the most ancient Mayan calendar has already outlived its cycle because it was not eternal. North Korea on the other hand mandates adherence to a calendar whose fulcrum is the date when their first supreme leader of their only party was born. So yes, the new year marks something all the time. But what does the most followed concept of January to December mark then, which deems the new year to be so new?

Look deeper and you'd find that the currently followed Gregorian calendar was formally established in 1582. Catholicism was at its prime with the Vatican gandering at becoming the beacon of redemption and pride. But necessarily, all other empires and communities did follow some calendar till then, so this was just the advent to unify all calendars to one central prime calendar, that obviously was more structured and easy to conform to, but which subtly mandated allegiance to yet artifact coming out of the most supreme religion of the world, guarded by its own supreme pontiff. Hence the new year was simply another move, another association, another belonging of a religion that now considered its responsibility to propagate itself because they believed it to be the very best.

With time, as most of the ruling tyrannies were obsequious to Christianity, they all started following the calendar and it soon replaced all existing concepts. And as Britain's usury on all its territories reached its prime, it began turning the wheels of its locomotives, signalling the staunch imperialism that was to thrive. Now the calendar finally held a very strong meaning because as the industrial revolution thrived and empires lurched towards modernity, dates, weeks, months and years held humongous significance. There were deadlines, dates of establishment, dates for contracts, dates for lease years, years accompanying acts that were passed, dates for registrations, dates for expiry, and all kinds of timelines were set.

The colonial establishments now had certain targets that they had to achieve within years. For the first time, you could establish long time duration with such startling command. Then soon budgetary allocations followed annual, semi annual and quarterly periods, and corporations took everything further. And before one could catch a wink, the Gregorian calendar became a bastion of achievement and progress and simply unquestionable. It's impact on our future was so terrific that Kennedy used it as a tool to lay down the date by which NASA had to accomplish the task of sending man to the moon!

There isn't a single day that passes by when we don't talk about the date. And it's quite a surprise that we adopted the calendar only 423 years ago while our history is more than 10000 years old. While it's pretty far fetched to conclude the calendar was the reason we suddenly shifted gears. Maybe we just crossed the threshold of our understanding and our knowledge exploded. But with all credit to the calendar, what's so new about a new year?

A new year in all essence simply justifies a transition to a period in which happy things may happen like some projects getting completed, incumbent governments getting replaced, etc. But a new year, also marks an end to a lot of things. Lot of contracts get expired, lots of leases get terminated, old projects get replaced, people get replaced, substitutions are sought. So what does a new year really signify then?

While the Hindu new year and various other new years bore relationship to crop cycles on which whole of mankind depends, the Gregorian new year is simply a tacit mandate to unknowingly celebrate the dawn of Christian apostles. We all say we'd have new year resolutions and we'd make this change or that. But in reality, you only further bow down in front of a concept propounded 400 odd years ago, and a concept which had to be inevitably accepted, and which continues be pivotal in all we do. 

The new year does what the concept could do best - put a timeline for everything. For certain aspects, the new year brings unprecedented certainty. But for hope, the new year ties it to its usual time frame. You keep telling yourself you'd get a new house in the next year, you're likely to get that increment in the next year after all. That you'd get a girl this year and she'd change your life. That this is the year when you secure an admit to your coveted institute. And the list goes on! So on the onset of the new year, you celebrate or put up a pretense to celebrate because you've got so many hopes from the year. But you don't even know that you tied your hopes to the year yourself, and that it was no manifest destiny! And then on the other hand there are people who celebrate because everyone else is celebrating so maybe it'll be pretty cool to celebrate.

Men and women who remain stoics for the larger part of the year suddenly become party animals and shun their animosity towards their foes on this one day, linking all their upcoming happiness to it. But no one even once thinks about how good it would've been if we could party everyday, and if that enmity was long forgotten and for eternity, than for one single day. We festoon ourselves with the best of attire on the new year, when we otherwise have the chance of looking like a star everyday. We shout among people and tirade the DJ, when we can go on the top of a mountain and rant against everyone we really hated every now and then. We celebrate like free bulls, not knowing what would come next, but only for a night. When in reality if we could really start living like that for every day of the rest of the 364 days, there would be no force, no might strong enough to stop you from reaching where you want to. And yet on the 31st of every December, we decide to move our of our caverns only for once, and move back in again as soon as the new year eve gets over. When in reality, you can celebrate every other day as if it were the new year's eve. Long live the Gregorian calendar, and long live Christianity!