While holidays are a plenty in India, almost coming in rhythmic succession – tuned to the harvest or the hunt, rituals spaced throughout the year to bring the rain, praise the sun, dip in the river and pray, climb the mountain and pray, mark the time between solstices and equinox, celebrate birth, honour death, the New Year’s Day is different. It is time to take stock of the year gone by, pause, reassess and change course for a better year. But above all a New Year’s Day is the first holiday of the year!
Our forefathers could never agree when the cycle of the year should begin. Indians celebrate the New Year with the month of Baisakh in mid April. The ancient Egyptians celebrated the New Year as the Nile rose at the end of August. The Incas picked the year’s shortest day which is June 21 in the Southern Hemisphere, while the Chinese New Year usually falls on the day of the second new moon after the winter solstice. It was Pope Gregory in 1582 who finally settled for January 1 for the Europeans. But whenever we choose to observe the day it serves its purpose: the past falling away, its demons chased out by conch shells, drums, bells and whistles, and a pristine New Year is born with no mistake in it yet, just resolutions!
Time has no divisions to mark its passage. There is never a thunder-storm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.
The first 15 years of this century is behind us. It came with a lot of promises, but left us with bewildered, bemused, grossly divided and threatened to the point of extinction.We are today fighting war in four fronts - terror, poverty, illiteracy and climate and it doesn't seem that we are winning in any of them. The very definition of success is now different, fundamentally different, and the earlier we recognize it, the better it is for us as a species. There is still enough for everyone’s need but there is never enough for few men’s greed. We will open the book of the New Year today. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called "Opportunity" and its first chapter is New Year's Day of 2016!
We are blessed by God as we are in the profession of healing. If we resolve to make at least one person happy every day, which is not a tall task for us at all, in ten years each one of us may have made three thousand, six hundred and fifty persons happy! Imagine the collective impact then. Will this not mean a much happier 2026? Will this not usher a much welcomed ‘global warming’ of warmth, affection, love and friendship? And it is something which is immensely achievable.
Happy New Year!