Thursday, November 12, 2015
Being Hindu and Being Christian in India: Posts by Two Indian Ladies!
A couple of days ago, my cousin sister, Ms.Annie Cyriac*, shared something that she has written on Whatsapp.
[* See Note at the page bottom]
While reading her Whatsapp post, I could gauge her anguish over certain social issues that have been eroding the ethos of our great nation. The same Indian values and culture on which we have been proud regardless of our religious or social status or political outlooks!
But more than being an independent expression of thoughts, her writing in reality was a spontaneous response to the thoughts posted by another young lady some time ago on her Facebook page which has become a so-called 'viral post' on the internet. Obviously, thousands of Indian net savvy citizens mostly representing 'Young India' have been liking her post and sharing it wide to make it viral.
That information came from my daughter which her aunt, Annie, confirmed later.
That made me to search and find the original 'viral post' titled 'Being Hindu' posted by Ms.Anurita Anupam who introduces herself in her post as a 'confused Hindu'. I also found references of her post on site like this ! I read this confused lady's post too carefully and realized the importance of the response made by my non-confused sister.
Anurita , in my opinion, has only made a passionate expression of thoughts arising out of her mental confusions. But her writing has the taste of some deep rooted frustration and more interestingly, her attempt to find the the root cause of her frustration, created more frustration. That was what I felt by reading her post.
But the disturbing fact is that there exist thousands who share similar confusions in their minds. That explains the main reason for her post becoming very likable to many and becoming viral.
No nation can neither progress nor attain peace when it has so many confused minds. It reflects warning signals about the onset of societal illness. It is essential that all right thinking citizens do some thing to mitigate such illnesses before it develops to some thing more vicious!
In Annie's response, I visualized an honest effort in that direction. But it is like a preventive medicine and cannot invade the minds of those already infested with the viral thoughts, unless they really want to get rid of those.
Yet with the permission of Annie, I am making an attempt to make her thoughts too in the public domain for those interested in knowing the other side. The following is Annie's response to Anurita's viral post:
"STRIVING TO BE A WORTHY CITIZEN...." By Annie Cyriac.
[A recent post I read about a confused Hindu has prompted me to write this!]
I am an Indian. I am a Christian. I am not confused. But I fear for my countrymen who are confused.
I was born in Mumbai and I have loved to celebrate Diwali with my neighbors-lighting lamps, bursting fire crackers, and gorging on the Indian sweets.
Christmas was just as exciting- singing carols and sharing home made cakes with our neighbors.
At the Catholic school we attended, the school prayer was chanted in unison irrespective of whether we were Christians, Hindus or Muslims. As kids, religion didn't matter. 'Secularism' was just a word in our social studies text book. It was what we unknowingly practiced.
Later on when we shifted to Gujarat, religion was not an issue at all. All the families in the colony lived in harmony. During Navarathri festival, my cousins and I would look forward to donning our new glittering attires and dance the 'garba' late in to the night. It saddened my heart to read that recently non-vegans (read non-Hindus!) in Gujarat were forbidden from participating in the festivities.
As a child I have also lived abroad in a non secular Muslim country. I would roam around the vicinity with my local Arab friends. They'd communicate with me through gestures and broken Hindi. I thought it fun to cover my head and mimic their ways as they kneel for 'namas'. Neither language, nor religion nor nationality mattered then.
I do not believe that all hell would break loose if a school run by a Hindu Trust in a Christian dominated area sang verses from the Gita or the Mahabharat. We cannot expect them to quote the Bible in any case; can we?
I recall my Hindu friends chanting 'Rama-rama' in the adjacent prayer room while we Christians said our evening prayers along with the nuns at the convent hostel we stayed during my teens. At present I work in a Hindu run school and each morning when the prayers are recited, the few Christians teachers there, do bow their heads in respect!
Christian churches are open to all. They don't get defiled if a person another religion or caste enters it. Christians and Muslims don't go to a temple for fear of insulting the sentiments of some Hindus who consider it as an act of defilement. Remember how even Indira Gandhi was once refused access to the famous Guruvayoor temple of Kerala? I had once innocently entered the Thirunakkara temple with my insistent Hindu friends without really realizing the implications during my college days. I now realize that it was indeed a great folly from my part as it could have caused a great uproar had the Hindu temple authorities had known my religion!
I do not refuse the 'prasad' given to me by my Hindu friends after they come back visiting their temples. For me, all food come from God and my conscience is not shaken. The Bible says that 'food will not commend us to God' and we are no better if we eat or not any food that is passed on from the temples or Gurudwaras or the Mosques! The important thing is to live in harmony with all and not to cause your brother or sister (from whatever faith system) to fall.
I do not care if my tax money goes to subsidize some of my country men's Hajj pilgrimage. Every year I gladly contribute to the temple festivals near my home and school.
If St.Stephens (college in Delhi) gives preference to Christian candidates, thousands of other private institutions in India give preferences to candidates of their own religious choice. There could be an equal number that do not do it that way. For that matter my own daughter had to pay a donation to get a seat in a Christian run college in spite of her having high marks! There are institutions (run by people from all religious affiliations) who follow the rules meticulously and those who violate those rules occasionally or frequently.
If a mosque is not allowed to be built higher than the St.Paul's Cathedral in a Christian dominated nation, is that really torturing of Muslims? What then should we say about the burning of 11 churches in north India in the past 18 months? And what about the demolition of the Babari Mosque on the 6th December, 1992?
In the Christian faith, marriage is a sacrament. For a marriage to be conducted in a church, it is essential that both the bride and the groom to be Christians, just as it is compulsory for a Hindu to take a dip before entering in a temple. I have witnessed inter-religious marriages taking place in the church with either the groom or the bride from another faith simply willing to declare as embracing the Christian faith for the sake of getting the marriage ceremony conducted in the church only to satisfy the other side! It is needless to say that they do it later in a temple or any other such place of their choice, again for the same purpose!
It really did not matter in India with its secular standing!
I am not for polygamy or for reservation (of government jobs on the basis of religion or castes). I do not welcome the beef ban nor do I welcome the beef party! But I have the sense enough to realize that the latter that happened here and there was not to mock any religion, but was only a kind of protest as beef eating is not yet a constitutional violation in this country. I am only alarmed a bit when someone rake up this issue as if it is against the Hindu religion because I have read the Hindu sacred texts that justify meat and beef eating! I do understand the compulsions of some in a democracy trying their best in raking up or making issues like this touching the soft senses of some people desperately hoping that they make political gains!
I encourage my children to read the Bible. But I also encourage them to read other religious texts. I do not consider that their religious faith would be at stake if they read other religious books!
For that matter how may of us have an in-depth understanding of our own religions or their true teachings? In reality most of us claim to be Christian or Hindu or Muslim not because of our real faith or convictions, but because of being born to parents branded in any of those religions! Most of us are 'nominal' Christians, Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs!
Again can any one become true Christian or Hindu or Muslim or Sikh by compulsion? If I say tomorrow that I am a Hindu, does that make me a Hindu? What difference it would make even if I give it in writing?
Recently a woman writer was asked to step down from the dias just to please a Hindu seer who refused to sit beside her. Can we blame our intellectuals for protesting against such a growing intolerance in a progressive nation of the 21st century?
I am an Indian woman. I am a mother and a teacher. I teach my children that the world is a global village. But now whe I hear the students saying ' all Indians are my brothers and sisters' in our school assembly, I fear for the future of these innocent kids who have to grow up in an era where stray dogs are given more importance than human beings, where communal political parties proceed with their agenda, where drug pedaling is not a big crime and where lynching and rape are nothing very big!
I am not a confused Christian. My faith stands firm. I also have faith in my friends-Hindus, Christians and Muslims. They are my brothers and sisters and India is my mother land just as theirs. A mother cannot be partial; no matter if her children are dark or fair, smart or stupid.
Secularism is not just a word meant to be confined to the Social Studies text book, it should be ingrained in the hearts of every Indian.
When in need for blood, will the gender, religion, caste or creed really matter for the recipient patient?
Don't say that the Hindu blood is different from a Christian or Muslim blood!
I do not know whether Ms. Anurita or any one of her followers would ever happen to read the above. If they do, I hope they really come out of their confusions.
And truly, there are nothing to get so confused!
As Annie puts it: let us truly strive to be worthy Indians! Our roots and bloods are the same!
[* Annie Cyriac is an English language teacher working in Amrita High School Mooledom in Kerala. Her husband is Dr.Jenu Alex. Her daughter, Rebacca incidentally got media attention while casting her first vote together with her grandmother and candidate, Mrs. Thankamma Alex in the recently held elections in Kerala (Image above shows Malayala Manorama e-paper Kottayam edition report dtd 6-11-2015 in p-4). Annie had been a teacher in Maldives some years ago. Her life experiences can be read in her blog site titled 'Notions']