Monday, June 26, 2017

Religion must unite. It cannot divide!

This was on the evening just before Eid in 1972. Close to midnight, Ma and Didi were bent over the Sewing Machine and the Embroidery set to finish stitching and dressing up a lovely lace Frock in Green that I was to wear the next morning.

Ma had started a fine tradition at home, ever since I came along into their lives. I was made the happy Guinea Pig at every festival and was all dolled out in the dresses and designs Ma and Didi crafted out. No festival was given a miss - yes, even Guru Purab or the lesser known Goverdhan Puja.

But this Eid was going to be special. Our next door neighbours, who had become very good friends of the family, were Muslims. So it was going to be a more intimate celebration for all of us, rather than a cursory greeting or a mandatory get together for all officers and their families at the Golden Keys Club of the Cantonment.

The Green lacy dress was very pretty and it set my mood for the day. From morning we looked forward to a day of fun and frolic with treats passed around, a huge bowl of Seviyan sent across to our house by our Muslim neighbours and yes there was going to be a rich repast for dinner to be enjoyed jointly by the families.

Almost all of my schooling, but for the two years in a Kendriya Vidyalaya, took place in convents and I do not recall if any of the Brothers or Sisters or the Mother Superior tried to convert us to Christianity. We, as kids, willingly, tip-toed into the School Cathedral, fooled around with the Holy Water dispenser and knelt and prayed to God in the astonishingly sublime silence. To this day, my last prayer of the day is the one I learnt in school and includes Christ; but that is only because I find it to be the most concise and all-surmising expression of Gratitude to God of any form or shape.

Ma, the ruling body at home, made sure that we celebrated all festivals at home, with the same fervour and gusto. On Christmas Eve, we had stockings tucked under our pillows which we opened with special glee the next morning, to find bags of goodies and gifts.

Under her, this excitement went across all religions. Ma even brought in local festivals from stations Daddy was posted in. There was never a dull moment or lessening of rejoicing spirit almost all through the Calendar year.

Yes, we are practising Hindus. I have been a Shiva Bhakt all my life and I have always upheld that my religion is much like all other religions; and above all it has taught me respect and compassion. None of the scriptures I have read, have ever told me that I have to hate the other religion to love my own.

So it is very difficult for me to see all this polarization happening in my country. The Us and Them divide, the closing in and the shutting out. That is not the Country I grew up in and this is not the sentiment that I will allow to malign my view of my nation.

A very Happy Eid EVERYONE!

Picture courtesy - Google Images

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