By vijay Phanshikar :
LET us thank our stars that most of us are to stay indoors all the time, thanks to the lockdown due to coronavirus scare. This compulsory staying indoors may offer us a good opportunity to revive the institution of family dinner, which used to be an integral part of family life until a couple of decades earlier. We should start having dinners together and spend time in discussions beyond our neighbours’ cars ...! We can create an atmosphere of true togetherness by evolving fine conversation over dinner.
True, many homes have kept up the practice of family dinners. But those are rather rare examples -- as good numbers of people in most homes have found diversions they feel are more important than sitting down together for a hearty meal, in the process losing the precious institution of family dinner. We must confess that as a society we have not realised what we have actually lost when we stopped eating our evening meals together -- all of us without exception, day after day ...! That calls for a reminder to all of us of the importance and beauty of family dinners. What a good time that used to be -- all enjoying meal together, conversing, exchanging good ideas and thoughts, sharing anecdotes (not gossip), feeling good, painting dreams, listening to the kids’ blabber and elderly advices in calm words ...! That was what family dinner was supposed to offer. That in-house institution was the best cementing factor for families, and homes boasted of their dinner-time in a paradoxical happy raucousness. When families ate together, they formed strategies to fight crises, if any, and even planned for futures of their youngsters.
It was the time when the youngsters found a chance to tell what happened in schools and colleges and the elders to share their experiences in markets and temples and festivals and neighbourhood gardens. But then bad times hit the average Indian family. People started finding diversions they did not resist, which they could have done easily if they willed. But those diversions changed life and lifestyle and we lost a great in-house institution of family dinner.
And most unfortunately, very few felt the loss. However, the compulsory staying indoors has now offered us a chance to revive the family dinner. We must make efforts to start eating our evening meals together and thereby revive family values that we held so dear to our hearts until some years ago. Of course, let us not miss admitting that there are some families who have rediscovered the joy of eating together as they are locked within their homes due to the lockdown. This change may not be noticed by the larger society. But for those families that have rediscovered the joy of family dinners, it may herald a happier life.