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Indianism - The Need of the Hour

Nancy Vijo Thursday, August 10, 2017
Indianism - The Need of the Hour

I remember my childhood days in a little village in India, where we celebrated the “Poorams” and “Ultasavams” (Malayalam :- Meaning :Celebratory and special days dedicated to a deity / an event in religious history; particularly relating to Hinduism )of the local temple nearby with all pomp and glory along with my friends. I clearly remember all of us chipping together to decorate the Christmas trees for the competition in the Church compounds when the cool winds of December blew during Christmas school holidays. I remember celebrating with my friends when the winning teams were called out after the Midnight mass. I remember running to our friend’s house for Lunch on Eid and Bakrid and saying the “Bismi” before we all relished the tasty Biriyani’s and Pathiris and the most delicious desserts one could ever taste.

I remember saying, “Bharath Mata ki.. Jai” without knowing the meaning but fully aware that I said it with pride along with my friends in school. I remember saying the pledge every day in neat “human lines” in the cool mornings on the graveled grounds in front of my convent school. I remember the times when we used to sing the National Anthem, the Asathoma Sathgamaya, Joy to the world and saying Mashallah and Inshallah’s all in a day at school. I remember learning chapters about the Pandavas from Hindu Mythology, About Lord Budha, about Prophet Mohammed and Moses along in the same class, alongside my friends in the same school, in the same town, in the same state, in my secular country – India.

I remember how I carefully restrained from having non veg for a week to attend events in my Brahmin Friends houses and how I had carefully noted to bathe before I stepped into an “Illam” or “Mana” where my Nambhoodhiri and Brahmin Friends lived. I remember the days when my friends mother would cook Beef for my family when we visited even if their whole family wouldn’t eat it. I remember the days when we would not even have “pork” in the refrigerator when we knew our Muslim friends were visiting. All this in My democratic country – India.

I remember the days when we would all rush into our friends houses where they had TV’s to see the republic day parade and to pick a state before the display begins. I remember cheering when the “selected” states display comes by - regardless of which state each one of us had picked. All this in My Sovereign, Republic country - India

ALL THESE WERE FROM BACK THEN. ALL THESE WERE IN THE PAST. ALL THESE ARE NOW MEMORIES.

On each of my trips to my home town over the years, I noticed how things have started to change. My childhood Hindu friends no longer send their kids to decorate Christmas trees in church because they felt it wasn’t appropriate. My childhood Christian friends no longer send their kids to walk along during “Thalapoli” (A procession carrying hind deities in pomp and glory) as they now thought that it wasn’t appropriate. My Muslim friends dint send their kids to either the Church or the Temples gatherings anymore as they felt it wasn’t appropriate. For all of them, one statement prevailed, “Times have changed. Things are no longer the same as it had used to be, Nancy”. And I noticed that I have now changed from just “Friends” to “My Hindu/ Christian/ Muslim friends”.

SOMEWHERE IN BETWEEN THE “THEN” AND “THE NOW” I GREW UP….WE GREW UP AND ALMOST LOST THE “INDIAN IN ME…THE INDIAN IN US”

Back in Kuwait, every event or meeting (being an active Toastmaster) or social gathering I go to; I would hear people ask, “So… where are you from?” and I would hear the usual reverts - ‘From Mumbai, from Chennai or from Kerala”. It has shocked me over and over again that we – INDIANS – portray ourselves as a divided nation, when in truth we had once fought the fiercest countries for our freedom. During one of the Toastmasters events in Kuwait, I had an acquaintance from the Arab World ask me the same question and I reverted “India. I’m from India”. He smirked and said – “Now that’s a new one. Are you from Mumbai?” And I very calmly said, “Does It matter – Mumbai or Chennai?” and he said surprised, “ No – it doesn’t.” and I asked, “ Can I remain JUST AN INDIAN?”. He smiled and said – “Yes, you can, as I can see you are one”. We clicked. We became friends – great friends infact and he spoke of how he admired us (along with the Arab and the Western world )- Indians - for the sincerity we portray, the warmth we all give and the way we treat “ Adhithi Devo Bhava”.


It made me think (Like it has made you think a thousand times) - Haven’t we all, in the event of growing up lost the “Indian” in us? Haven’t we all consciously segregated ourselves into nice, comfortable groups and gatherings in fear of “acting appropriately” or being in “the right social strata?” Do we send our kids to a Church Feast or a Hindu festival or a Muslim celebration? No one here intends to stop sending our kids to our religious gathering or educating them about the religions we practice, as religion is an integral part of our culture and upbringing. The ONLY intent is to nuture that spirit of being an Indian; the understanding that we all have different beliefs but that we are sensitive and that we respect each other’s sentiments.

In one of the IIK Diwali Mela events, where I had emceed, I called up a couple of youngs kids on the stage for a game. I asked them first to introduce themselves starting from the one in the right. The crowd cheered on as the young ones introduced themselves. I remember this little bubby boy from Punjab, full of zeal and enthusiasm who was the 3rd in line. When he introduced himself, he said; “Im Gurbinder Singh, from India” and the Crowd went into a Frenzied cheer, one that was the loudest that day. Every single child who introduced themselves after him said the same, uniting the crowd present that day into a strong, close knit family –INDIANISM flowed in the crowd. If you were a part of the Diwali Mela in 2015; you would have witness the “Spirit of being an Indian’ that day. Similar to “Chak De India” and the scene where a similar scenario happens; I had goosebumps and I’m sure that many shared the same feeling with me that day. It was inspiring and thought provoking how that answer of one child immediately triggered a flow of positive INDIANISM that day.

Heath Al Bucmaster said, “Often, it’s not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person, you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.” Realization of what we consciously or unconsciously mold ourselves and our kids to be; is the first step. If we consciously convert from saying “ I’m from Mumbai or I’m from Chennai or from Kolkota or from Kerala” to “I’m from India”, we have already started to proclaim the Indian we are truly inside” When we teach our kids to restrain from what might hurt the religious sentiments of others (however small it may be); while holding onto and practicing our own faith; we have helped ourselves and our generation to start that journey of reclaiming our Indianism. When we have instilled in our young ones that despite the color of our skins, the languages we speak and the states we belong to; we belong together and we support eachother – we are well on the way to proclaiming our Indianism.

On 15th August 2017, as I will watch our Indian Flag flutter in the hot Kuwait Winds in the Indian Embassy compounds with the National Anthem being sung; I will take this pledge. I will take the pledge that my child, my husband and my family will reclaim and proclaim Indianism. I will proclaim Indianism with faith that many who read this would consciously mold their kids to start the first step – to just start with saying, “I’m from India”

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, solemnly resolve to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR ,DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC” – today and always.
Nancy
Nancy is a creative art person,a writer and a motivational speaker. After almost 7 and a half years of her career in HR and Corporate Training in various hierarchical levels; she decided to turn to Applied Behavioral Therapy, trying to make a difference in the life of Autistic kids. She loves designing and choreographing and has anchored various shows in an out of Kuwait and India. She believes in Karma - that what you give is what you get. She writes with the belief that if her writings brings about a positive vibe in the life of a person who reads it - even if it is for a fleeting moment - she would be blessed. Being a vivid observer, she only writes on true experiences.
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