Band, Baaja, Baraat

We Indians are united by our need to generate noise.

It's official. The recently concluded 11-day-long beloved Ganesh festival has been the noisiest in recorded history. Despite Supreme Court rulings to literally tone down the festivities, we, as people, are happiest when we amplify our spirit of celebration.

Perhaps the Gods in the distant heavens need to hear us at full pitch in order to bestow their blessings. Perhaps by creating as loud a ruckus as possible we are making a public statement of our piety. Perhaps we believe that the higher the decibel, the greater the outpouring of devotion.

Soon we will experience the euphoria of Navratri. As local politicians lobby to allow the celebrations to extend until midnight, Falguni Pathak and her ilk will undoubtedly belt out thumping ditties that will make not only the festival grounds pulsate but also ensure that neighbourhoods across India will reverberate sleeplessly for those nine cacophonous nights.

Diwali transmogrified a long time ago from the Festival of Lights into a Festival of Noise. Entire colonies will compete to outdo one another with the longest, most deafening ladis and nerve-shattering atom bombs that detonate regularly in the early hours.

Of course, all communities are equal offenders when it comes to celebrating loudly and proudly. Be it Eid or Christmas, Onam or Baisakhi, we are a boisterous bunch of revellers.

Be it the birth of a baby or the wedding of a family member, we are seized with the need to share our joy with the rest of the world. This invariably involves the use of an amplifier and mega-watt speakers that ensure that everyone in a five-mile radius can participate in our elation.

Surprisingly, even educational institutions do not shy away from making a din. I live opposite a celebrated school, adjacent to a beautiful church, blessed by a Pope. But these hallowed precincts echo regularly with amplifiers blaring music at full volume. Worse, shrill and tuneless schoolteachers lead their pupils in singing songs at fever pitch over loudspeakers that make one wonder if these educators need to be taught a few lessons in propriety themselves.

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