This Christmas, let love, compassion and brotherhood enjoy the last laugh!
In post-liberalised India, there exist innumerable poor innocent little folks who are ignorant of the significant meaning and essence of birthday celebrations.
Updated on 24 Dec 2021, 6:43 am
As a boy growing up in a town, in a middle class family, in the mid-70s to mid-80s, I found celebration of birthdays as a very simple matter. Generally a small offering might be given in a local temple coupled with preparation of a few special delicacies. At the most, an invitation to very close family friends and relatives if they live in close proximity.
However, now celebration of birthdays have turned out to be a major occasion almost bordering on royalty and this magical transformation is being clearly noticeable following India's economic "liberalization"!
Yes, in post-liberalised India with middle class-turned nouveau riche showered with ample money to splurge liberally; birthday celebrations have become a matter to remain awestruck about! Renting of spaces be it in local community halls to restaurants to even hotels have become the norm with decoration to food delicacies to deluge of invitees seeming to rival marriage ceremonies also!
However, on the opposite pole of this very same country, there also exist innumerable poor innocent little folks who are ignorant of the meaning and essence of even their birthday; celebrating it or tasting a birthday cake remaining a distant dream! Rather they are simply unaware of the concept named birthday!
This is exactly why a poor boy of Class IV of Dubrakone primary school in Onda, Bankura district, Bengal stood up innocently and asked the teacher about the meaning of birthday when the latter was referring to the birth of Jesus while discussing the upcoming festival of Christmas(2 winters ago)!
The teacher got stunned by the question and got more stunned by learning that nobody in the class is aware of the significance of birthdays!
While this piece of news is extremely heart-shattering and touching; the attitude of the headmaster and teachers of that rural Bankura school thereafter have transmitted that rare piece of joy in this hatred-spewing society of intolerant times where rights demands aspirations, emotions and sentiments of the poor simply do not matter!
Far from remaining cold to the ignorance of the poor kids about their birthdays (all children of poorest of poor folks), the teachers and headmaster have collaborated to celebrate the birthday of each and every child on a monthly basis according to the "date of birth" as entered in the school register.
The teachers not only bear all cost in celebrating it complete with previously unseen Birthday cakes, even the impoverished parents of the respective children are also invited to join so that they also do not get left out in this rare occasion of joy!
The whole matter started with the issue of the birthday of Jesus Christ. Now with such an unique all-embracing celebration with beneficiaries being the marginalized deprived children, it is sure that none other than Jesus Christ is now blessing the school authorities from high above for making the day of the innocent children! Also we have got again enlightened of the Christmas lesson that festivals can earn it's real meaning and significance only when all members of the society irrespective of class are included in it.
Indeed amidst the deluge of communal talks, threats, assault on freedom of speech, political mudslinging and rampant character assassination; this news coming out from rural Bankura surely emits fresh ray of hope and breeze of optimism that perhaps all things sanity have yet to bid final goodbye from this society!
In this context, Belur Math also deserves special mention which prays to Mother Mary and Jesus with the Hindu monks singing Christmas Carols to celebrate the divine occasion.
The barbaric brigade (acting as self-declared guardians of Hindus) who dare to take the name of Swami Vivekananda in their communal lips full of hatred and get known as "saffronites"; should learn a lesson on mutual respect and communal brotherhood from these saffron-clad Hindu monks of the institution based on the humanitarian ideals of that all-embracing sage!
The highly polarised Indian society should draw inspiration from the liberal credentials of Ramakrishna Mission and simply throw out the devil lot (scandal in the name of Hinduism and saffron colour) from all over the country who beats up Christians by accusing them of engaging in "conversion", kill Muslims (in the name of Gomata), torture Dalits and inject communal poison in the society to earn electoral dividend.
That all things, love, sanity, compassion and brotherhood enjoy the last laugh with communal zealots getting permanently consigned to dustbin of history --- let this be our sincerest prayer on the holy day of Christmas.
(The views expressed are personal)
Special Contributor, KOLKATA, West Bengal