Festivals tie Indians together
It is again that time of the year when the festivities are all around. The nine days of Navratri behind us, one looks forward to the lights and joys of Diwali. It is a festival that is celebrated by all Indians, irrespective of their beliefs and religions and is a wonderful example of the diversity and inclusivity of this nation.
As the markets get decorated and people line up to shop and buy new clothes and decorate their homes to welcome the Gods home, it becomes a festival of all the people. No house skips the lights of the Diwali night as everyone prays for greater prosperity for their homes and families.
This spirit of joy will continue till the end of the year when Christmas will be celebrated with equal fervour and joy. Come December and the distant sound of Christmas carols will fill the air as the sun will warm our hearts and souls on pleasantly cold December mornings.
A round in the markets in Delhi means running into Christmas trees and Snowmen of all sizes staring at you. In a city that never gets snow, Snowmen is a delight to see. And then the Christmas decorations which light up the markets, especially in the evenings and well, one knows, it’s that time to the year.
In India, the Fall months are one of non stop festivity. The nine days of Navratri are followed by Dussehra and Diwali, signifying the victory of good over evil. And then we roll into the Christmas spirit and wait for Santa Claus and our gifts. It is a unique glue that binds Indians together, and that is one of celebrating all festivals with equal joy and fervour. So while we all light up our homes on Diwali, a much awaited Christmas lunch brings family and friends together for joy and laughter.
According to the Religion Census of 2011, Christians in India constitute about 2.30 per cent of the entire population which is almost three crore of Indians. The largest chunk is of course Hindus at 79.80 per cent, almost 97 crore followed by Muslims at 14.23 per cent which is a little more than 17 crores. It then is real magic that despite the glaring differences in the numbers and percentages, when it comes to the festive spirit, all Indians come together as one. Nothing else can quite define the secular fabric of this nation better than this spirit.
It also gets reflected in food and how the cuisines change as the festivals come. The markets get laden with sweets around Diwali and around Eid, Biryani is all one can think of. Similarly, during Christmas, cakes get an extra dollop of cream and every coffee shop entices one with a large slice of Christmas cake.
These few months every year are my absolute favourite ones. From Oct onwards the spirit of festivities brings families, friends and even strangers together. I always marvel at how these few months, we celebrate all festivals together, pray and eat together in good spirits. It is also then a living reminder to anyone who can doubt India and Indians as one people.