‘Tis the Season to Chill

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Photos by Esha Samajpati © All rights reserved

Growing up in Calcutta (ok fine, Kolkata), I was exposed to celebrations of various countries and communities, and Christmas was a big part of it. I will be damned if any kid will let go of a festival which involves stockings full of presents, cake and pudding, and best of all, a holiday.

India is home to Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, not just Hindus so we get to do a little bit of everything. And if you come from a city and home like mine, nobody is going to cut, sort, and label your holidays by religion. It is true that Kolkata pulls out all the stops for Durga Puja. During those five days, if you look at the unplanned, messy metropolis from high above, all you will see are bright lights. Every corner is lit, every neighborhood is glowing. But that doesn’t mean it forgets to dress up for other occasions.

Bengalis, the native people of Kolkata, are by nature a fun-loving, chilled out sort. If you are having a party, religious or not, count us in. That seems to be the motto. Brisket or ham, Hanukkah or Christmas, it’s all good.

Remember the Starbucks cup uproar of last year? If you have been living under a rock, or maybe have found a way to eliminate unnecessary news from flooding your feed, please google “starbucks christmas cups 2015”. It’s something I will never understand. Neither will I feel bad if my kid chooses a Christmas tree instead of a snowman for his winter craft project. Believe me, it has happened. Feathers were ruffled and projects have been reassigned.

The twinkling lights we used for Diwali can double up for Christmas, right? In our house, it does. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have so many divisions. We would have a few year round holidays for getting together and eating and drinking. I guess that is how most traditions started off, and then became contentious, a game of yours and mine.

Apart from the social aspect, when you buy a box of freshly-minted diyas for Diwali, a fancy wreath for the holidays, and some candles for Hanukkah, it all helps the economy. So these traditions were designed to help us, not divide us.

The end of the year is here. Long weekends are around the corner. People are shopping and giving and sharing (hopefully). Main streets are decked up. As are many houses. People are traveling to see family and friends. A jolly old man is supposed to leave presents under the tree. Parties are happening.

Where I come from, ’tis the season to chill.

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