Strange how random strangers have an opinion on something you do.
Our beautiful Christmas tree and Kindness calendar is up and we have been working fervently on creating some stockings this year. Of course, all this is on display front and centre in our living room for all and sundry to see (and hopefully admire!)
Sometime last week, a maternal aunt came along to visit and while casually lounging on our sofa remarked at how Hindus were suddenly turning all western and celebrating Christmas. Then she turned to me and asked,"You are a Hindu, why are you teaching your children about and celebrating Christmas with them? Aren't you scared they will become Christian?"
Now, as gobsmacked as I was, I chose then not to say anything and smiled the whole incident off. But these things have a way of hanging around in the recesses of your mind and resurface every now and then with an extra shot of outrage! So now that I have had time to think, here are a few things I want to tell anybody who wonders why a Hindu celebrates Christmas.
1.Raising kids in a multicultural society
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It is the reality of today's urban Indian parent that we are raising our children in a country that is home to many different religions and languages.
Added to that they are exposed to language, traditions and culture from the West through television, games, movies etc. I want them to take the best of everything. Isn't that the best part of it? So while we celebrate Diwali and Janmashtami and Onam and Pongal and take away lessons of sharing, joy, happiness and kindness we also want to celebrate Christmas and Eid and learn similar lessons. Through our Kindness calendar, my sons are doing one act of kindness daily. Through Christmas trees and Santa, they are learning all about gifting and providing for the less fortunate. Now, what's wrong with that?
2.Worried about whether my children will switch religions?
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We are born into a Hindu family, and we are teaching values and lessons using practices and festivals followed by not just our religion but also other religions. Now how can that surmount to them wanting to change their faith? Won't it just make them better, rounded, human beings? Any festival in India has an element of communal celebration, doesn't it? Why should this be any different?
3.Tis the season to be jolly!
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As much as we take our time and honour traditions like taking out the diyas during Diwali, or making festival specific sweets, or even visiting sisters with gifts during Rakshabandhan — we love the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree every year, being thoughtful about what our siblings would like as gifts and even taking time out to write letters to Santa! If that isn't passing on tradition down the generations, what is?
4. Being exceptionally good!
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I continue to tell my children Santa is watching and he will only bring presents if he knows you have been good! Am I blatantly lying? Yes! But one month out of the year my feisty four-year-old will actually behave! Again what's wrong with a little magic and make-believe when it actually helps a mom out?
5. Hope for a better new year
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A little magic and make-believe can definitely take the edge off now, can't it? Well, I know I need a stiff shot of that! So no matter what Aunty thinks or believes, my staunch, South Indian Hindu Brahmin family will continue to celebrate Christmas. You can even visit us and watch us do it! It is the season of joy after all, why not spread some joy?