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The Stars of India and the Festival of Lights
Colin Todhunter on Diwali
the stars belong to a meaningful philosophical tradition

It is Diwali on November 4th. This Hindu festival represents the triumph of good over evil and is known as the Festival of Lights. Various Gods and Godesses are worshipped throughout the country, including Lakshmi, Krishna and Ganesh. Diwali symbolises the age-old culture of India which teaches people to vanquish the ignorance that subdues humanity and to drive away the darkness that engulfs the light of knowledge: to uphold the true values of life. We can all learn a lot from it so read on....
What do Arnold Schwarzeneggar, Britney Spears, Victoria Beckham, Madonna, and people of their ilk have in common? Quite simply, they make me sick. Well, not them as people - I don't know them - but to be more precise, the cult of celebrity (or ignorance) that surrounds them. They are worshipped by the media and are held up as role models, heroes or heroines. We are led to believe that "You too can be like them" - if you had a fraction of their talent. But their "talent" is often questionable. The "talented" ones are usually the public relations people who acquire maximum exposure for them, who get them the juicy parts, or the photo opportunities.

The trouble is that too many are taken in by it all. They begin to believe that the mediocrity paraded before them by the tabloids or TV is the ultimate in creativity or talent. Victoria Beckham may not have the best voice in the world, but to many, this average woman is the ultimate in chic. Madonna probably does possess a good voice, yet she is touted as the strong, no nonsense woman - the ultimate in feminity. Schwarzeneggar? Can he act? I would rather not say. Yet he is the destroyer, the avenger, the male spirit. Their fame far outshines the amount of talent or ability that they may possess.

In Britain, newspapers and magazines are full of people possessing dubious levels of talent, but public adoration for them never seems to wane. People want to be like them - to be them. But really, can people be blamed for worshipping such mediocrity? In the West we believe that we are so sophisticated. We may or may not believe in God anymore, and on the whole we don't go in for those old fashioned public displays of religious ritual anymore. We are logical and rational people are we not? - steeped in science and scientific reason and that is why we are so superior to those other "undeveloped" countries. Going to church is out. Going to watch the football or a Robbie Williams concert is in. But all we have done is substitute the "other world" religion for civil religion. At the end of the day we are not as sophisticated as we like to think. We are still worshipping icons and indulging in ritual. But our icons have feet of clay. They are only people - very often, ordinary ones at that.

In India, they have Kali, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesh, Krishna and a million and one representations of God. Kali is the strength of womanhood. And Shiva is the creator and destroyer. Sure, India has its own film industry and cult of celebrity. But when compared to the real stars of Hinduism, they almost pale into insignificance. The difference is, however, that the stars of India belong to a meaningful philosophical tradition - an ultimate explanation of reality based upon firm values.

Madonna on the other hand is an icon that, to some extent, is imposed upon the masses by her PR machine. And as far as the deep philosophical tradition to which the Western celebrities belong to...well can scrambling to the top of the pile in order to make a huge wad of cash be placed into anything deep and meaningful? I am not a spiritual or religious person, but at least Diwali, Ganesh, and Krishna (or their actions) epitomise ultimate values - those which cannot be eroded. Britney and Robbie epitomise something - I would not like to speculate what - but one thing is for sure: like every human celebrity, they can surely represent one thing only - the frailty that is the human condition.

© Colin Todhunter November 2002
You can buy Colin's Tales from an Indian Continent
- The Madras Diaries
Traveller Tales on the Road in India
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Read Colin's Collection of India Stories now available, with new unpublished additions in Hacktreks first work in print.

Colin Todhunter in India
All Aboard the Tamil Nadu Express: next stop - insanity!
Colin Todhunter in India
He had met a woman in the hotel, and was totally mad about her.

From Copenhagen to Byron Bay:
A tale of two women
Colin Todhunter
"In India first you get married and then you work these things out", he said with amazing casualness.

Poison Kiss
"There will be a small financial re-numeration" Mr Sunderjee says...
Colin Todhunter finds himself the unexpected 'star' of an Indian movie.

The unique experience of going
to the gym in India

Colin Todhunter

Me, God and Jerry Seinfeld: spaced out in India
Colin Todhunter

I got the impression that he thought he was a living God. He was lost in space.

Thirteen Hours to Midnight
Colin Todhunter

They spend their lives waiting for midnight.

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