Celebrating Christmas as a Hindu
I'm a Hindu who also celebrates Christmas. It's not as weird as it sounds; 81 percent of non-Christian Americans celebrate Christmas non-religiously. Everyone has their own Christmas traditions, just like my family. Every year, my family (all 50+ of us), travel to the same place and it is a lot of fun.
My parents started celebrating Christmas when they were kids. They were the only ones who didn't celebrate at their schools, and they felt left out. Their parents, my grandparents, began bringing home presents near Christmas. From that simple exchange of gifts, Christmas in my family has grown into a family tradition. It's one of the only times my huge family comes together.
As soon as 97.1 FM starts playing holiday music, it's the only station we play in the car. In the days leading up to Christmas, my family goes into a bit of a frenzy with decorating. We put up a tree, complete with my mom's Redskins ornaments, and a collection of ones from Starbucks. We wind bright lights up the stairs and decorate the mantle with all of the red tinsel items we can find. All the while, Christmas carols, mixed with the occasional classic Bollywood song, blast in the background. And then there's the candles. This is my favorite part. Every Black Friday, my mom and I go out and get a ton of clearance candles from Bath and Body Works. This year's scent: Cinnamon Caramel Swirl.
On Christmas morning, I wake up to the smell of delicious food. My mom's been cooking up a storm since 6 in the morning. By the time I've gathered enough energy to get out of my bed, it's almost lunchtime. As soon as my feet touch the floor, I know it's time to get down to business. We've got a whole house to clean because in just six hours, there will be 50 people scrambling around my house.
I spend the whole afternoon hanging with my mom in the kitchen. We sing along to every holiday song we know and before we know it, it's 2 o'clock and the food is ready. Sometimes we make Indian food, sometimes Mexican, sometimes Chinese. Whatever we make, it's always great because we get to share it with our family.
We spend hours watching cheesy Christmas and Bollywood movies and eating tons of cookies. Usually, we can't even wait until the cookies are baked and end up eating the raw dough. There's a fire burning this whole time, and my entire house smells like a giant cookie. By the evening, the food is being warmed up and it smells like heaven. I'm ready with my ugly Christmas sweater and Christmas tree earrings.
Before I know it, I'm surrounded by a horde of baby cousins who just have to open their presents right that second. The grandparents are usually watching Indian soap operas while we exchange gifts. It's always nice to see everyone smiling and so full of love. We follow with a Hindu prayer before eating. I sing and lead everyone in prayer. After dinner, everyone stays for a while longer and has dessert. Once they leave, we stay up late cleaning the house. I fall asleep that night completely content. I realize just how lucky I am to be able to celebrate Christmas with my lovely family.
Maybe the way I celebrate Christmas isn't traditional, but it's still got the Christmas spirit. Even as a Hindu, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. I can't imagine celebrating Christmas without laughter, loud Indian people and lots of love.
Mehana Daftary. My name is Mehana Daftary and I am an Editor-in-Chief for Silver Chips Online. I am a member of Blair's acapella group InToneNation and I enjoy singing and reading. More »