‘Real’ Celebrations

In the last couple months the world celebrated 2 holidays. Please pay attention to that line – I did not say a certain people of a certain religious bent, I did not say a country, I said the world celebrated 2 festivals. My Facebook and Twitter feed was full of emotional messages and gratitude towards moms and dads on Mother’s and Father’s Day, respectively.

I looked at the people ‘liking’, ‘hearting’ all of the status updates and messages and one thing caught my attention. A small thing that gladdened my heart immensely…the outpouring of love and gratitude was not deity driven, wasn’t bound by religion and quite simply the messages of the day were love and just love in all its infinite forms.

Having lived in India all my life and for the most part in a cosmopolitan city like Bombay, I did celebrate more than the Hindu festivals of Diwali and Holi. Iftar parties and Christmas celebrations were as much a part of the fabric of my growing up years as was Varalakshmi Vratham. We learnt to enjoy sevaiyyan and rum infused fruit cake as much as we loved Murukku and Seedai. This, though, had largely to do with my parents’ liberal attitude towards religion and its trappings.

My mother was not, correction – is not big on temples. When she prays, she invokes the Almighty, she doesn’t specifically call out to a Hindu God or Goddess. Her belief system has always looked to the Almighty as one benevolent, giving entity. My dad likes his temples and his shlokas but by his own admission, it’s because that’s how he was raised and not knowing how to pray to any other deity, he sticks to the ones he knows and loves. I realize now that I was immensely fortunate to have been born to parents with such an attitude towards spiritualism as opposed to religious dogma.

Others in the country (/world) may not have been so fortunate, I understand. Even if you were raised in a strictly religious household, it has been my experience that parents preach love. Raising a child is many small acts of love all day, every day. There is a miniscule percentage of parents that abuse the privilege of parenthood but they are the exception that proves the norm. 90% of the parents in the world do the things they do motivated by love for their child, even if they are misguided things.

I am yet to see a parent that raises a child on a philosophy of hatred. No parents’ dream for their children involves world domination via dictatorship. I’m sure Hitler’s mother did not raise him by telling him that the Holocaust sounded like a great idea. Every time a school shooting happens, the perpetrator’s parents are only able to express shock that a child they raised with love and affection was able to commit such a crime. They do not cackle with glee.

That is the essence of my post. In a fractious world, we need more festivals celebrating people, occasions and reasons that propagate love. On Mother’s day and Father’s day, nobody, but nobody said “my mother/father is better than yours” or “just because you love your mother/father you cannot love/respect mine”.

Since this is a theory that has percolated in my head for years but only found concrete footing this year thanks to its being borne out by data on social media, starting next year, I am going to help my family celebrate Mother’s day, Father’s day, Grandparents’ day, Siblings day, Sister-in-law/Brother-in-law day, Mother-in-law/Father-in-law day, Children’s day etc. The people in our life that make our everyday existence better, that help shoulder our responsibilities, that, sometimes, make the world brighter just by being, deserve to be celebrated with just as much gusto as a God that I believe exists, but I have not seen.

P.S.: Please note, this post was not written to hurt anyone’s religious beliefs or sentiments. This is purely an expression of my thoughts and feelings.

I am mom to a quickly growing 11 year old. I have lived abroad for over 15 years and I struggle daily with the challenges that parenting and straddling 2 different cultures throws at me. I am an avid reader, a huge fan of the movies (Bollywood, especially) and a somewhat sporadic writer. I blog at MM’s musings.

  • Ada

    Very beautifully written.