It was a hot, sultry day, with the mercury settling at around 32 degrees, one notch above the season’s average in Chitwan. At the same time, it was also a soothing and comfortable day, filled with mirth and enjoyment. For women in our society, being at Maita—the parental home—means being showered with parents’ love which is always blissful.
I was on a vacation, relaxing and simply scrolling down my Facebook page through the mobile screen when I found one of the astonishing videos of the Mother’s Day celebration shared by my friend as a memory of three years ago. His video portrayed a ballroom decked with crystal-accented decorations and a cloud of beautiful confetti balloons hanging on the ceiling. There were glittering banners of Mother’s Day. Classic Vanilla cake was set on a table with an acrylic cake topper. The visuals of the celebration were unbelievably dazzling. It seemed as if it were the happiest family. The pictures he uploaded were so priceless.
After a few months, I came to know that his mother was admitted to Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj due to severe pain from pancreatitis. While she was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), her churlish son rushed to Sasurali—parent in-laws’ home in Palpa with his wife to celebrate Janai Purnima leaving his old mother to suffer in hospital for nine days. I was crestfallen but could do nothing except commiserate with his mother.
I am sure this year too, on Mother’s Day, which is two weeks away, the Facebook wall will be filled with our mother’s photos and videos of lavish celebrations. We are adept in the skill of pretending as the best sons and daughters of our parents. Many of us will buy gifts like clothes, accessories and jewelry and display them on Facebook to show our ostentatious affection for our mothers. But is it enough to pay our tribute to our dear mothers who spent all their lives for our upbringings?
It is true that these days our way of celebrations has entirely changed. We leave no stone unturned to make our celebrations special and unforgettable. Mother’s Day, or Mata Tirtha Aunsi, is one of the festivals celebrated in our nation to cherish the love and bond between mothers and children. It is celebrated on Baisakh Krishna Aunsi, a week or two before Mother’s day in Western society. According to Hindu traditions, children worship their mother as she takes greater responsibility for the upbringing of her children. It is also widely believed that remembering one´s late mother on this auspicious day and taking the holy dip in Mata-Tirtha—a holy pond in Kathmandu—will free oneself from his/her debt towards his/her mother liberating the mother’s soul to the heavenly abode. But in this euphoria of celebration, people must not forget that their love and respect for their mother should not be a one-day event.
Last week in my locality, I came to know that a mother of eighty returned to her village after spending some couple of months at her son’s mansion in Kathmandu. I wonder why at such a feeble old age, she had to leave them and choose lonely life. They are such a rich family. I do not understand why they let her go despite having all that opulence. During her stay with them, they did not forget to upload the beautiful snaps of four generations on Facebook. I wonder why modern-urban people keep this kind of suavity and sophistication to display. I am concerned about her health because of the severity of migraine attacks she gets frequently. Ironically, I am sure that on this Mother’s day too, her son and daughter-in-law will wish her a Happy Mother’s day via Facebook.
Since the dawn of civilization, mothers have been respected and worshiped in our land as goddesses. We call our country the motherland in respect of the wonders of motherhood. But with the impact of modern forces, this lure is gradually disappearing. Our relationships in this modern world are so brittle and fragmented that sociologist Zygmunt Bauman calls it ‘liquid modernity.’ He has chosen ‘liquid’ or fluid as the metaphor for present-day modernity as “liquid makes salient the brittleness, breakability, ad hoc modality of inter-human bonds”. Bauman says that due to ‘liquefaction of society,’ our modernity is characterized by the increased transience, uncertainty and insecurity of all social forms. We are so media-saturated that the internet and Facebook have permeated our social and personal relationships and we still love this virtual world.
We have ornamented our love on social media sites and genuine love has gone out of our ordinary life. Somewhere along this trajectory, the noble ideas behind the celebration of Mother’s Day are getting lost.
Ulrich Beck, another profound scholar, says that in a cosmopolitan society, there is a domain of media. Though the national frame continues to prevail, media industries and cultures go on changing dramatically by producing and reproducing all kinds of transnational connections, transformations and confrontations, he says. “The consequence is that cultural bonds and loyalties begin to transcend national boundaries and people using transnational channels live here as well as there,” says Beck. Societies are, thus, not only national but are produced internationally too. It’s good that we have the ability to adjust readily to change but we must keep ourselves aloof from the mad pursuit of media-based love.
I am not against the mother’s day celebration. This is the day when we, at least, realize the care, love, arduous work and compromises done by our mothers. But my concern is have we whole-heartedly discharged our personal and social duties towards mothers every day? We have ornamented our love on social media sites and genuine love has gone out of our ordinary life. Somewhere along this trajectory, the noble ideas behind the celebration of Mother’s Day are getting lost and our hypocritical pretensions about mother’s love only remain. The younger generation, therefore, must strive to sublimate their pompous desires and emotions into meaningful and sensible activities.
Sindhu Gyawali is an MPhil Scholar at the Central Department of Sociology, Tribhuvan University.