I am a Hindu from India and did a major part of my schooling in a Christian school, where the majority of the students were Hindu. So did my wife. It was nothing unusual for us to be taken to church by my teachers on specific occasions like Christmas and Easter or Good Friday.
It never even occurred to anybody in my family or in the community to ever object to that practice. Later when I switched over to a Hindu school, we celebrated Hindu festivals and the Christian students sang our prayers with equal gusto. We celebrated Christmas too and I remember having played the role of Joseph in an enactment of the birth of Jesus. On Moharram and Pateti, the Muslims and the Parsis brought sensational lamb ‘biryani’ or ‘dhanshak’ and we all devoured it as if we had not seen food before.
Even though I’ve been in America only for a short time, I am shocked to see how quickly the smallest events become major issues of freedom and free will in this country. Not a day goes by when some issue of exclusion or inclusion doesn’t come up. Every event is now measured on the scale of discrimination. This is religious intolerance in reverse.
I don’t know how many schools have banned the celebration of Christmas, banned the singing of Christmas carols, banned the reading of Christmas stories, banned the display of Christmas trees and the Nativity Scene, banned all religious teaching simply because they don’t know what might offend whom. I simply don’t understand why the singing of a religious song or story can upset somebody. What kind of person can he or she be?
America is currently engaged in pushing personal freedom to its outer limits. This is the first time in my life that only one person has wished me using the words “Merry Christmas”. More Hindus in India wished me with those words than do Christians in America!
Everybody’s scared, afraid to offend, afraid of being taken to court, simply for saying, in some way or the other, “I wish you well, by brother, I want God’s Blessings to be with you”.
God is God whether you call him Jesus or Allah or Ganesha or any other name. He really doesn’t care, you know, He doesn’t have to. He will bless you even if you remove the ‘God’ from ‘God Bless America’. You really think it matters to Him, what name you call Him by or how you think of Him, what prayers you sing or what language you sing them in? You think it makes a difference to Him whether you sing His praise in a church, a mosque or a temple, you puny, petty, irrelevant, small-hearted apology of a human being?
So, may ‘Happy Holidays’ go to hell! I, Hindu, wish all human beings, Christian and Muslim and Jewish and Hindu and Asian and Chinese and wherever else you may come from and whatever you are, as long as you are a human being, a very Merry Christmas. I will wish you all again, whoever and whatever you are, a ‘Happy Diwali’ or ‘Id Mubarak’ or “Happy Hannukah” whatever else each day brings in the praise of God.