Saturday, November 13, 2010

With Love and Without Prejudice Towards All

 We just finished Halloween, Thanksgiving, Diwali and now Eid is on in this part of the world. I think it is very 'neatly convenient' that so many important festivals fall right around the year ending and everybody can look forward to much  joy and celebrations. Forget about the not so nice parts of the year and just focus on having a big partayyyy! No? Been hopping around tons of blogs and am amazed at the sheer number of posts on the festivals gone by...although, I dont do Halloween, Thanksgiving (hubster's side of the family have their own Indian version of Thanksgiving, which we dont celebrate as a couple owing to it's Hindu roots) or Diwali. I think my sister in Canada does some stuff for Halloween etc but more for the kids rather than anything else. Our family focus has always been Easter and Christmas. Good Friday even more so, knowing and believing that our Lord lives!

Most families nowadays are open minded and percieve themelves as modern, secular and peace loving. 
I dont know about other 'Indian-Christian' families, but me and hubster do not feel the need to project that to anybody or indeed give much thought to it . So, no I dont really feel the need to light a few candles on Diwali no matter how pretty it looks or wish a friend who may be celebrating it. No, it does not even strike me to call up my Hindu friends and wish them. Will it bother me if they do not call me back for Christmas? No, not at all. I dont expect them to understand the significance of Christmas just as I dont consider their festival significant! Does that make me intolerant and unsecular? I dont think so, it is just not important, that is all. Had I been married to a non-Christian, maybe I would have been chilled out in my philisophy. It would have been like 'everything goes'. But since I am not, I need to be very clear and focussed on what I believe in and would like to pass on to my child.   Although in our constitution, India is deemed a secular country with all religions being accorded equal respect and tolerance, in reality it really isn't true. It is overwhelmingly a Hindu state followed closely by a sizeable population which professes faith in Islam. Christians, Buddhists, Jains , Sikhs etc are all a small minority. To their credit, I personally find most of my Hindu friends and acquiantances quite liberal and easy going. A large majority is non confrontational and go about doing their own thing. As are other folks too. But even so, India can get troubled at the slightest religious differences. In such circumstances it gets difficult to cling on to your personal faith and be counter-cultural. So again a large majority of families end up doing a little bit of everything. When I was blog hopping I was amazed to see so many non-hindu families actively celebrating Diwali !  Agreed, for some it was just the lights, for some a chance to indluge in good food, for some it was all about dressing up and partying and for some it was just bursting crackers! Nothing wrong with any of these activities per se but for me it gets worrying when a friends or family begins to have expectations from me. 

How so you ask? Let me explain. Come festival(s) season and some of my non-christian friends refuse to see why I do not join in the celebrations! For eg, we  have this particular couple here in Dubai who are our friends. Or rather used to be. This couple has over the years expressed open displeasure and shock that we do not wish to celebrate their festivals in any form whatsoever. They claim to be modern, educated and cosmopolitan. Unfortunately however, when it comes to practise, they are really short on tolerance themselves! They have been unable to understand or appreciate our refusal to join a 'Puja'- a Hindu religious ceremony/actof worshiping. They have got upset if we have refused 'prasad' i.e food offered to idols during religious ceremonies. These things are a pretty big deal to them and to us too! Why cant it be understood that just as offering and consuming 'prasad' is important to them, it is just as serious and important for me to refuse it. By doing so, I do not conspire to insult or hurt them. It happens to be a major part of my religious convictions and I dont see why should I be made to feel like a 'fundamentalist' in wanting to hold on to it! If you do not understand  why judge in the first place? I especially find my hindu friends struggling to accept this. The simple reason I feel is that Hinduism is esentially a pluralistic religion and hence it has place for every 'supernatural' power or phenomenon. Christianity, on the other hand is pretty clear that there is 'only one God' and that God actually tells us to worship no one but Him. Talk about precise instructions!

Which brings me to my next bit of the rant. So, if I tell my child not to bow in front of man-made idols and to believe in one true and living God, I am a mad parent teaching my child to be intolerant? A friend wanted to gift me something which had a picture of one of her God's on it (do you realise dear reader how sad this sounds?? My god, her god?). So anyway, I politely refused to accept it. And told her in great detail as to why I was unable to accept her gift. She was close enough so I did not think I would hurt her but I did not expect the anger either. She was really, really, really angry and hasn't spoken to me since then. I do grieve the loss of our friendship but not at the cost of what 'I' believe will bring grief to my God. WHich is why, I find it totally bewildering when the very same people who claim to be peace loving, non-interfering, secular etc turn around and condemn me for being religious. I dont claim to be open-minded or liberal or even secular. I am infact none of these things. I dont intend to be either. So what I practise and preach is in line with what I profess to be. Not so when it comes to some folks I would say. I dont do labels. I go about practising my faith knowing very clearly in my mind where I am headed. Living out my faith in everyday situations is vital to my testimony as a woman living for Christ. In doing so, I may end up ruffling feathers, so be it. I can be different and infact chose to be different but if I am doing it with love, I know I am doin fine. 

I do not plan to upset folks, but they chose to be upset anyway. Just because I wont light a few candles on Diwali or eat 'prasad' or wont allow my child to attend a 'puja' or wish to eat a burger while a neighbour is fasting for Ramdaan? Heck, I dont get all worked up when you make a public announcement that 'hey, it's Christmas, let's get drunk' or say something as flippant as,  '' it's that dude,  Christ's b'day apparently-lets party!" Or when you walk up to your manager and demand a day off for 25th Dec just to sleep in and not because you really care that it is Christmas! You know, it always surprises me when somebody acts surprised that I not only like to talk about my religion but also talk to everybody (who will listen) about it. I mean, just because you are not Christian does not mean I should shut up when you are around right? You dont like to talk about it?  That's okay, I wont label you .  I on the other hand, like to talk about it-which should be also fine, please dont label me either.  Get it?? It was especially awkward when I lived in Europe. Boy, was it tough being religious! Naughty,dirty word! You are either supposed to kick out God or do yoga or reiki or other such nonny. It is no better in India. You should be okay about a loudspeaker blaring away middle of the night for some 'puja'  or your religious practises and convictions being dismissed as totally insignificant. Or be like a  modern- cosmopolitan -urban- city dweller. Everything goes. Else be labelled narrow minded, mean and confrontional. But then I should probably not get too worked up because currently in India, with the emergence of new money and increased purchasing power , religion and festivals are just another excuse to buy more! It has nothing to do with spirituality. At all.

You know, I really dont think religion is personal, at least for me . If  I am acting in a certain manner and do not wish to hurt others by my acts then I should be willing to come up with an explaination. Which is what I tried doing this Diwali. Ended up annoying some folks but then I have never claimed to be politically correct. It is really not my headache if my reasons are not good enough for you. It is also fine if you think I am mad and narrow minded and dont wanna be friends with me anymore. I love you anyway. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Happy Happy Post

Some time ago I had posted about my birthday this year and the beautiful plants I got as gifts. Gardening makes me happy but since I now live in an appartment I have just a small container garden in a corner of my balcony. I wish I could have painted the walls of the concrete railing around , but am not allowed to. I have some nice murals in my head. I know many people dont think it is wise to invest too much in doing up a rented space. Not me! While the landlord may not even permit radical changes like structures or some weird painting of the walls, we (i.e. hubz and me) still like to put in roots wherever we chose to make our home. I like to live in pretty surroundings and try my best to make my house look nice. I take care of not going over board with my budget and have over a period of time collected stuff which gets packed up for the next move whenever required. That includes my babies-plants.

Anyway, I thought I will share some pics of my balcony garden. The weather now is awesome in Dubai and sometimes we can sit out for a cup of 'chai' after a long day. Yohaan too loves to potter around here while I tend to my plants. I do encourage him to get wet and dirty. It is the closest he can get to nature while living in a tiny appartment building.

All plants new! Except that Jade plant in the white fat tea-pot planter on the left.

This is just a begining of filling up my balcony with greenery.

Predator man on the prowl. My garden lit up for my b'day eve.

Look at the Giraffe!

Tell me , tell me whadya think of the pretty lights??

 A close up. That little brass matka is from Benaras!

I love the play of shadows on the walls...I so want to paint this wall!

These pictures were taken by me on my birthday eve after a whole day spent repotting my new plants and cleaning up the balcony for a dinner Al-Fresco. The picture quality is sad because I am still learning people. They shall get better with time I suppose! Hope you enjoyed looking at them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Help Needed Pliss

It has been a long time of blogging for me but I am ashamed to admit I still haven't figured out how to insert linkies in my know when you are writing about something from somewhere on the web and you want the readers to click on it and reach that page? Like how all the talented bloggers insert here and here , which are links? Oh boy, am I making sense? Anyway, if anyone has understood my misery, pliss put me out of it asap. I have tried and tried and not succeeded so far. Pliss to comment or email and do your kind deed of the day. Thanks muchos.

Happy To Be Back

Oh Yayyyyy! Am back to my new and pretty looking blog. What was intended to be  a one month break stretched in to a longer one- much longer one. But then I had nothing to share and was running low on inspiration. In such circumstances I did not think my readers would take kindly to my mindless and uninspired rambling. So anyway, here I am hoping to resume my regular programming. Not much has happened in the last two and half months that I was away. Have a couple of posts drafted and I will be back with some recent pictures and view points. I truly believe 'everybody is entitled to my opinion' - in my humble opinion!! So there!