Big Kaanwar vs Small Kaanwar
By Savita Tiwari
Albert Einstein said creativity is contagious. Mahashivratri is the only occasion when the world witnesses the creative side of our Mauritian youth, all out on the streets of our small but beautiful island. The island turns into a big art fair. The foundation of this occasion is spiritual, and the grand structure that stands on this foundation is an artistic masterpiece.
Most of you remember the grand beautiful kaanwar from L’avenir last year. It may have created a temporary traffic jam, but nobody can counter the fact that it was beautiful with a lot of hard work and creativity poured into it by the youth for many months before the grand festival of Mahashivratri. It is the contagiousness of creativity that brings all the Hindu youth of the island together to create a work of art for the world to witness.
Every year people indulge in the debate of Big Kaanwar versus Small Kaanwar. The argument given against big kaanwar is that they create a traffic jam. Controlling traffic jams is the job of the government. It is their responsibility to create enough infrastructure to support these beautiful magnificent kaanwars. The argument here is like: if you cannot digest the food, then stop eating food. No, we have to address the digestion problem instead of stopping to eat the food altogether.
You cannot put water on the creative fire of youth by giving a reason that is not even their responsibility. There are more than two thousand kilometers of roads all over the island. Every month a new road is constructed in some corner of our paradise to make travel more convenient. So why not construct the 4-5 kilometers of separate road for kaanwars from La Marie from where the traffic jam starts? I know creating a new road is a complicated matter. But as parents, we do complicated things to make our children creative. We buy so many colours and colouring books, games, crafts, etc., just to spark creative thinking in them children. Then why don’t we overcome some small complications for the creativity of the children of our island?
I have seen young people of every village gathering daily after work at the village temple or somebody’s house to discuss the idea of kaanwar as early as December every year. Cutting bamboo stems and letting them dry for a month is the first step. Then comes the design. Every single night they gather to create the kaanwar inch by inch, then wrapping colorful ribbons to cover every centimeter of the bamboo sticks.
Away from social media and completely submerged into the creative journey with the Mahadev bhajans playing in the background from some mobile, channeling the energy into the young minds. And then 10-15 days before Mahashivratri, everything speeds up. The energy reaches a new level. Everything is ordered up to the point of perfection. Then the grand beautiful kaanwar is brought in front of the whole village to view and appreciate the hard work.
On the day when the kaanwar leaves from a village towards Ganga talao, the whole village comes together to send off the kaanwartis.
Then the magnificent kaanwaars come on the roads in a myriad of colours.
Imagine a road all for itself with the beautiful kaanwars – a road of creativity, une route de la créativité, or name it on the most creative kaanwar of the year, inspiring and fuelling the spiritual creativity of the young generation. The extra road or whatever solution the administration comes up with is not only going to make the traffic smooth but will also offload the pressure on the youth of making small kaanwars. Even psychologists believe that creative thinking serves children far beyond their childhood years.
Our small island doesn’t have much opportunity to showcase the talent of the people, especially those of the younger generation. Mahashivratri is the biggest canvas they can have; let them fill this canvas without limiting their flight of creativity with some logic of convenience. Provide a proper infrastructure so we all can enjoy the spiritual and beautiful kaanwar made with the sweat and devotion of our youth.
I will end my opinion again with the line of Einstein because today the world talks about reasoning so I am giving you reasons given by the greatest scientist himself, a scientist in favour of creativity and imagination. Einstein says: “I am enough of the artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
Let Mauritian youths encircle the world.
Happy and Creative Mahashivratri to you all.
* Published in print edition on 9 March 2021