Should Christmas be a Public Holiday in India?


From The Editor's Desk

(Hinduwebsite Editorial - Exploring Truth Amidst Illusions and Distortions)

Few years ago, the Times of India and few other Media sources tried to implicate the Indian Government on the Navodaya School circulars about some curriculum activities that were scheduled on December 25 for the students. All those who tried to find fault with the Government on the issue ignored the fact that in none of the Christian majority nations a Hindu festival has been declared as a government or a national holiday.

There are about five to ten million Hindus in America (both of Indian and American origins) and millions elsewhere in Europe and Australia. They all have to work on every Hindu festival day or they have to apply for leave.Therefore, logically in India, which is a nation of few million Christians, Christmas should not be a holiday.

According to the official statistics, the Christian population in India is about 5% or less of the total population. It is a holiday because of the Colonial legacy left by the British and the tolerant attitude of the majority Hindus. And everyone who wants to denigrate the Hindus in India on this issue should respect that so far they have not made celebrating Christmas a contentious issue.

However, since some Media sources had blown the issue out of proportion, ascribing motives to the government as if there had been a conspiracy, it could potentially become an issue in future if they keep harping on it year after year.

If it happens, the Media has to blame itself for trying to politicize and sensationalize a trivial matter and attribute motives to the administrative decision of an educational institution.

We know that this is a sensitive subject and may make some people uncomfortable. However, we decided to speak on this issue because certain groups in India do not miss an opportunity to attack Hindus and Hinduism on some pretext or the other.

The Media Companies in India believe that projecting Hindus in an aggressive manner makes good news and increases their ratings and circulation. Whether it is religious conversions or other matters, Hindus are subjected to extra scrutiny and disproportionate criticism.

In today's world, festivals like Christmas and Diwali have ceased to be mere religious events. They create many business and employment opportunities, besides improving tourism, commerce and industry, and providing opportunities for mass celebrations and promoting religious harmony.

We therefore believe that people have a right to celebrate their festivals and all communities should participate in them in the spirit of religious amity.

However, Hindus should also remember that in none of the Islamic nations Hindu festivals are recognized, and in none of the Christian majority countries that we know a Hindu festival is officially declared as a holiday. It is despite the fact that millions of Hindus live in these countries and contribute to their prosperity and development.

Many Hindus who live in the USA are so elated by the inconsequential news that the Whitehouse officially celebrates the Diwali. The truth is, it is celebrated privately on a small scale by a few Hindus and their friends in the administration, and not many people are invited into the White House to participate in it. It just makes good news.

On the contrary, in many States Hindus cannot celebrate Diwali in the traditional manner, in the open, whether in front of their houses or in the backyards. They cannot openly use fire crackers, since using them in public places is statutorily prohibited. If you want to celebrate, you need special permission which is difficult to obtain.

So far, in none of the states Hindus have managed to obtain general permission from the local governments to use firecrackers on the day of Diwali. As far we know, there is not even an effort to do so. This is the truth.

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