It is December and the holiday season is upon us, with celebrations like Christmas, Hannukah and New Year all approaching. In December also comes the Dhanurmasa, an auspicious month for Hindus.
In the past, I was sending over 500 season greeting cards every year during this month to business, friends, and families. The postal service system was a great way of sending greeting cards. This was done during the first full week of December to avoid sending them out too early or too late.
I no longer have the necessity to use the postal service system now. The social media is keeping me close even more. I make effort to send my season greetings over FB, WhatsApp, Skype and Zoom. The greetings are digital. However, the numbers are significantly down compared to the past.
It is also a time of the year when several Hindu friends exchange Christmas greetings amongst themselves. I too get my share of merry Christmas greetings from them. I know for certain they do not celebrate Christmas at home. Neither do I. This is a puzzle.
And there are some Hindus who decorate their homes with Christmas trees. Hinduism teaches plants and trees as sacred and to be worshipped. Perhaps, this should be the reason.
In a similar vein, I do not see Hindu’s exchanging Eid Mubarak greetings amongst themselves. It makes me wonder why greetings are exchanged only during Christmas. This is a puzzle.
This year’s Vaikunda Ekadashi fell on Christmas Day. Virtual greetings were exchanged by those who remembered the occasion. The greeting resembled season greetings. Vaikunta Ekadashi bestows liberation from samsara when observed. The greeting should reflect the purpose. Changing the greeting tagline should be given some consideration.
Then there are Hindu deities making rounds in social media in Santa Clause’s attire. This is another puzzle though Santa will not mind a helping hand.
I hope I do not sound sceptical.
I promptly send chocolate gift boxes to my Christian friends along with Christmas greetings. This year it is Godiva chocolates. I always remember to wish my Muslim friends world over during Eid Mubarak.
The English new year is approaching.
For Hindu’s, the first of January is not a new year celebrated in the culture. The Hindu new year typically falls during the month of April. The Hindu new year is about contemplation and liberation and not about three cheers.
For many the dawn of New Year seems to mark newly found happiness and clean slate. One can always join the celebrations when the humanity is coming together and wishing each other irrespective of the logic.
A very realised south Indian Hindu saint who lived in the 19th century had an interesting perspective. I quote, “Whenever a New Year dawned, it became the practice of some Indian officials to see the chief executives of the East India Company to convey New Year Greetings with some compliments, apparently with the expectation of getting some favours”.
It is understood before independence, it was a regular practice for many Indians to go to Britisher’s home during new year to greet and seek favours.
The saint devised a unique method to divert the Hindu attention during the new year eve prompting them to make a pilgrimage to Thirutanni and spend time greeting the real lord. The saint is Vallimalai Sachitananda Swamigal. This practice continues to this day.
On this lovely occasion, my season’s greetings and wishes to you and your family.