Festivals lay bare a body of knowledge that is essential from cultural and reli- gious standpoints, but there’s also a whole host of more seemingly innocuous ideas and concepts, tied up with attitudes, beliefs, customs, and morals. These are the unwritten learned and shared behaviors of a people, of shared experience, and of tolerance. If not for festivals, more of these most basic tenets would slip away. Why Do Festivals Make Us Feel Good? In the glow of celebratory intensity, endorphins flood our bodies. It’s simple, and it’s effective. Festivals, like most joyous events, typically help relieve stress and even counteract the effects of pain. One’s blood pressure goes down. One’s breathing evens out. We relax, our emotions balance out, and we smile. That feel-good vibe is relaxing and washes away negativity, leaving a sense of overall well-being and happiness. That’s just part of why festivals are embraced around the world. People want to feel good, but they also want to belong. After all, at our very core we are social creatures, and a festival is the perfect opportunity to bring people together. For most events, it doesn’t really matter what one’s socioeconomic or religious background is. Everyone is on the same footing, on the same field, just swaying to the music or watching the dancers weave in and out in their ritualized movements. It’s an intoxicating display. Our hope is that we will forget everyday concerns, if only for a few minutes or a day. It’s a safe space, without fear or recrimination. It’s about the here and now. It’s about the beat. Why Do We Care? Perhaps most important of all, festivals remind us that we care. In the humdrum chaos of life in modern society, it’s easy to forget about what it means to be not only part of a community but also a part of history. We share stories, but we also collaborate in the social and cultural experiment that is our lives. People care about each other—at least in some off-kilter, sideways way—and it is distressing when violence and hatred separate us. Festivals serve as a re- minder that we can rise above the things that pull people apart. In these simple yet powerful events, we come together as friends, neighbors, and human beings. We meditate, pray, sing, and dance together. For a few minutes, days, or weeks, we forget that there is anything outside that feeling of belonging, hope, and joy. Although festivals may not save the world, they may provide the time and space to collectively remember what it feels like to come together for a common goal or purpose.
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