Why do we hate festivity?


It’s a Pakistani past-time


When it comes to celebrations and festivities in Pakistan, section 144 rules the land with police and rangers’ deployment to bar the hooligans, one-wheelers and rash drivers precisely youth. Police is after young people to capture or baton charge them while they are wandering on roads for fun sake. The only New Year’s celebration put forward this year was organized by Bahria Town’s administration – a welcome sign. Why are we reluctant to arrange festivity opportunities and platforms for our young people and why we do not understand the importance of entertainment as essential for the youth? We discourage Valentine’s Day equally so and so we have banned Basant. Either we call them Western, Hindu, Christian rituals or we attach some kind of derogatory element to them. Why do we hate to toast the moments which are globally recognised as celebrations? And what have we offered as an alternative to bar the hooligans and one-wheelers if what they do is fatal or wrong?

Let’s look at these festivities one by one.

Basant has been a cultural norm for decades in this region. Historically, it is enshrined as a seasonal greeting (welcome to the spring) sans religious manifestation. Each one of us has a childhood memory where colorful kites were always swirling in the air as a symbol of joy for so many. Without a huge economic investment, one could bring a kite and string to enjoy the kite flying while standing on a roof top, positively competing with the neighborhood. Eventually, it evolved repercussions in the form of accidents due to use of chemicals and attempts to sharpen the strings and this changed the entire scenario. Eliminating use of chemicals may require a regulation for those of the business community involved in it. The string dealers are countable in number and can be accessed easily through regulation. A code of conduct could be developed instead of banning it for millions of youth and society by killing the culture.

Basant was a part of Lahore’s identity. People were used to planning events and get-togethers with friends and families joining in from around the world. It promoted tourism, and hotels would be packed up around this time of the year. Roof tops of the walled city, open ground fields, the grounds of the Minar-e-Pakistan, and parks were filled with food and kite flying festivity, featuring a healthy activity which was a peaceful social narrative of the country.

On the other hand if we compare the number of killings with and without Basant; one youth being led astray and being preyed on at the hands of extremist element due to lack of youthful entertaining opportunities is far more malignant and deadly than kite flying.

Another important day for the youth is Valentine’s Day. Every year young people are look forward to express themselves through flowers, stuffed hearts, balloons and chocolates. None of these are lethal or harmful. Rather, they express love, joy and pleasure. We try to snub it with administrative hindrances, section 144 and deploying the police force rather than subsidising flowers, chocolates, restaurants, arranging musical concerts, allocating spaces such as decorated parks, arena for one wheeling, diving, rides etc.

I surveyed a group of fifty youths in November 2016, asking what their most favorite celebrations around the year would be if given chance; they replied Basant, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, Eid and fun-fairs. These are the events they identify themselves with. We on the other hand identify most of these rituals with Hindus, Christians, the West or dangerous chemicals.

Everything cannot be segregated as “eastern” or “western” in this globalised world, for example; technology, arts and science have become a global competition for youth, similarly entertainment is a basic human phenomenon. If we want to be listed among peacefully co-existing countries, then we have to recognise such rituals in their entirety.

New Year’s is the time to put up next year’s resolution in a happy manner with a wishful thinking of success and achievement. Valentine’s Day is a moment to rejuvenate with your loved ones. Basant is a seasonal greeting. These days are full of enthusiasm and energy for all those who believe in the celebration of life. There is no need of making things complicated and attaching alienated taboos to them. By reviving these festivals we can engage our youth into healthy activities to express youthfulness. These opportunities will help us in bringing back our lost peace narrative, which we are trying to achieve mainly through verbosity and physical counter terrorism.


  1. Simply misleading article. Basant was banned because of the rising death toll, not because its hindu. Non-sense.

    • Please read again I said same:) due to use of chemicals in strings which could be managed through regulation.

    • That’s not the answer that we ban everything that is harmful, knife is dangerous so we should ban it? Cars leads to accidents so shall we ban it? You should put control behind basant instead of banning it

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