Monday, December 28, 2009

A politically correct Christmas

The other day, Sonia of Gutsy Writer had written about how in her part of the world, people could get offended if you wished them a 'Merry Christmas'.

Luckily, it is not the case in India. While what the world hears about are the religions riots that periodically erupt in my country (and I would like to believe we have now matured enough as a nation for there to not be any more of them), what gets forgotten is that centuries old reality of India is one of religious amity and co-existence.

Blame it on my convent school eduction, and a childhood spent reading Enid Blyton if you wish, but I don't remember a time when I did not have a Christmas tree in my house. And my mother always baked a cake for Christmas. You could, perhaps, say that mine was a slightly elitist upbringing, and not representative of the nation as a whole, and I would agree.

But the fact is that Christmas, like most other festivals, has become a secular celebration in the country. On Thursday, dozens of people in office wished me a Merry Christmas; nobody wished me a Happy Holidays. None of the people I saw shopping for Christmas decorations looked Christian. There were women who's green glass bangles branded them as Maharashtrian Hindus, there were women who's headdress proclaimed them as Muslims. They were all buying ornaments for Christmas trees!

In India, wishing someone a Merry Christmas is the politically correct thing to do.

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Marjorie said...

Yes, here in the US it is become more like we all should have freedom from religion rather than freedom of religion. It's an absolute shame. It would be better if we were more like India in this respect. I would LOVE it if their were celebrations in the streets for every religious holiday. It would be so much more free in this country. Don't you think?

Marjorie said...

*there* That was a really stupid typo

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. Your story goes to show that Christmas is becoming more and more divorced from religion.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Marjorie - what seems to be happening in the US is a shame. If more people celebrated each other's religions, everyone would be a lot happier. At least, that's what I think.

@ Fiona - to me, Christmas is a festival of Giving and Sharing, and that should be universal. But what I am a little scared of is the commercialisation of the festival- too few people choose to remember what it stands for.

Marjorie said...

That's true too, Natasha. But if everyone can't get on board with the religious aspects of Christmas I'm at least glad that they can celebrate the other aspects. It is what tolerance and unity are all about.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

True, Marjorie. Maybe I am asking for too much, but what I would like is for people to celebrate all festivals in the spirit in which the festivals were meant to be celebrated.

dipali said...

Celebrating everything is so much part of the India I grew up in. Long may it live:)
We had a lovely tree this year, a change from the potted plants my kids used to decorate.

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Dipali - you do get fantastic trees these days, don't you? Not like when I was younger, and I often ended up with trees made of green crepe paper (do you even remember crepe paper any more?). But that was fun too, in a very different way.

Eni said...

Mentioning Enid Blyton reminds of some Enid Blyton Christmas story books. I would also like to remind you that I have published a book on Enid Blyton, titled, The Famous Five: A Personal Anecdotage (,
Stephen Isabirye


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