Period between Christmas and new year is one of the most awaited times of the year. I am told that things come to a complete passé in most of the Europe, US and down under in Australia and New Zealand. My daughter who works and lives in South Africa has also told me about the cold freeze ( though Christmas is summertime there), meaning no work!
In India, we are workaholics! Except for 3-4 days at a stretch that Kolkata is shut during Durga Puja, I really haven’t seen parallel of Christmas vacation abroad, in India. You celebrate Diwali today and go to office next day – for a change Mumbai had two days off Diwali this year. Ditto other festivals – Ganpati, Rakhi, Holi or Dussehra. Or may be we have too many religious and national holidays throughout the year that do not justify any break at a stretch.
It’s a fact that economic affluence and travel, including the overseas, are rather recent phenomena in India. In our childhood, our travel was mainly to our grandparents or marriages in family. Overseas travel was a rarity, unless someone was working abroad. I had mentioned in one of my earlier blogs that my father never owned a passport meaning he never crossed Indian borders, unless Pakistan is considered a foreign country, which it was not prior to the partition as my father used to study and work in Lahore. My mother is slightly more widely traveled having been to Switzerland to visit her brother, Johannesburg to visit my daughter, her granddaughter and a visit to Thailand!
This Christmas raised lots of hopes as just before the start of the season, the success of Corona vaccines created a lot of positivity and it seemed that end of Covid was near. However, a new mutated strain of Covid, fresh lockdowns by several countries and night curfew in Mumbai have all played spoilsport! However, I read two beautiful thoughts outside Mahim Church that summed up the never say die human spirit! The first one said, “ Unmask your heart and welcome Jesus” , which to my mind is a beautiful take on pandemic, exhorting us to wear masks on our faces while opening our hearts to help those who need the same most! The second one read, “ You can limit the numbers, but you can’t limit our faith”. While only limited number of devotees congregated at churches for Christmas Eve masses, a large number of faithfuls joined on line in a true spirit of the festival that is aimed at bringing happiness for one and all!
We have all been waiting for 2020 to get over and 2021 to come! We in fact should wait for Corona to get over! This hope was expressed during Diwali and Eid too and the same hope lingers on now during Christmas, because I read somewhere, “ There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.” Then what’s so special about this coronavirus?
With this I end series of blogs I wrote on the occasion of Christmas and wish my readers merry Christmas and seasons greetings once again!