We as Canadians, take pride in the fact that we live in a democracy which supports individual rights. That is one of the main reasons immigrants from all over the world come to North America—for the American dream, because the opportunity is endless. People generally live by the words “Don’t give up,” here, because there is always room to get right back up and start over again. The harder one works, the more they will achieve and the faster they will achieve it. It is a fair democratically influenced system that we all recognize, live by and take ultimate pride in. It helps us to get through each day, no matter what downfalls or problems we face because at the end of the day we have the comfort of knowing that tomorrow brings another horizon of opportunities.
Once you live in a country driven by highly democratic, laissez-faire principles, these principles become a part of your everyday life and in turn they become a part of you. That is why we will hear the average person speak words such as “This is a democratic country”, “I have rights, and I will stand up for them”, “Their actions are infringing upon my rights” and so on. A Hindu is not exclusive to such words. They also take pride in these principles that they have accustomed to and made their own. However, they fail to stand up to make use of these rights when it comes to defending their religion—because many are unaware of what their religion is all about. It is great that Hindus can easily adapt and live in a society so different from theirs back home. However, the concern is that these principles are generally only upheld and stood by when it comes to communicating with people that are so progressive thinking that they forget to sustain their Indian-Hindu roots. I will explain this further later.
Today, many Hindus have become so progressive and adaptive that they are forgetting to uphold their true Hindu identity. This is not to say that progressive thinkers are to be looked upon negatively. Rather I am suggesting that people should be both progressive thinkers yet, upholders of their history, values and traditions which may have played a crucial role in who they have now become. We must not forget that the teachings of our parents, on how to live were driven by Hindu principles Even if parents did not directly affiliate their teachings to Hinduism, due to its modesty as a religion, one must realize the truth and connect who they are, back to their roots. The issue I would like to address is that many Hindu’s tend to not only forget about their roots and religion, but instead they tend to look at other Hindus who are trying to uphold the religion as fanatical, backwards-thinking, outcasts.
If I go around greeting other Hindus with a “Namaste”, they frown upon me or look at me awkwardly with surprise, pausing before saying a “Hello” or a silent “Namaste” back. It is okay that saying Namaste may be awkward for them because it is not what they see every day, but to frown upon one who says “Namaste” is very insulting. Another issue I have recently had to deal with was when I asked people if they celebrated Christmas and Diwali. Most would say yes to Christmas but many said no to Diwali. I wondered why and asked to try to explain why they think they grew up to only celebrate one and not the other, especially because they labelled themselves as Hindus. Their answers usually ranged from “I grew up in Canada, so I celebrate Canadian holidays,” or, “I am forward thinking and like to adapt to my surroundings so that my children will have a better life here with others”. That is true. I agree that children need to feel at home even at school, but if we just focus on adapting our children then what identity will they have as people when they grow up? Who will they label themselves as? If they label themselves as Hindu’s, how will they defend that they are in actuality Hindus who follow the religion, when they know nothing of it? These are some things that parents are forgetting to think about and, young adults face an identity crisis because they do not know who they are.
So we must stop judging others because they choose to be more Hindu. It is not all about adaptability and accommodations to western society. Our children should also be made to uphold and take pride in their roots. When a greater number follow the path of Hinduism, there will be a sense of community and thus one Hindu will not frown upon another for choosing (remember we live in a free society with individual rights and choices) to be more Hindu. As an advocate for Hinduism, I have chosen to not celebrate western holidays—not because I disregard them or see them as null but only because surprisingly that is the only way I get questioned, “Why do you refrain from celebrating Christmas?” and thus I get an opportunity to make my point—that just as a “Hindu” has chosen to celebrate only Christmas and not Diwali, I as a Hindu have also chosen to celebrate only Diwali—It’s a free rein society. We all have individual rights to freedom.