By Jagdesh Singh | OPINION |
The steady stream of celebratory messages on WhatsApp wishing me and my family a Happy Diwali for this year was indeed welcome. Appreciated in fact, even if the wishes were intended for the whole group. Lord knows we each have enough of a couple thousand WhatsApp groups on our handheld devices.
I dutifully and personally respond with thanks to each and every wish. In the excitement of going back to my hometown, to spend some time with my Dad and old friends, I hastily reply with the hands together emoji symbolising humility(?). But at the same time the I harbour a tinge of guilt.
Because at the back of my mind, something keeps reminding me that Diwali really is a Hindu celebration and I’m not exactly identifying myself as one.
Since I can remember, there’s always been this stigma in my mind that Sikhs aren’t Hindus, and my thoughts and actions have been to differentiate myself from all things Hindu. Maybe it was those stories of Guru Nanak admonishing caste and the hypocrisy of religious bigots that centred around the pandits. Maybe it was because of the trauma of 84. But Dya Singh does a better job explaining why we, as a Sikh community in Malaysia sort of felt weird celebrating a Hindu holiday.
But it dawned on me that even if a directive came from the powers that be that we Sikhs should not show any significance to Diwali, there really isn’t any reason to stop enjoying our holiday, is it?
Anytime’s a good time to go home and spend time with your family, your extended family or your close friends who you treat as family.
Anytime’s a good time to celebrate love, to cherish and remember loved ones.
Anytime’s a good time to enjoy good home-cooked food, to enjoy cooking as a family, to share food with family, friends and neighbours.
And anytime’s a good time to celebrate in prayer, in thanks to our Maker, in thanks to Her Messengers and to our spiritual Guides.
Anytime’s a good time to head over to the temples, the Gurudwara or to that special corner at home for experiencing prayer in commune.
Our attempts to justify celebrating the holiday but at the same time trying to distinguish ourselves from our Hindu friends have got our knickers in a twist, it seems.
I say, no matter how we want to brand the holiday, if it’s Diwali or Deepavali or Band Chor Diwas or whatever, it’s as good as anytime to celebrate.
We really don’t need a categorical reason to celebrate. Even if it’s through WhatsApp messages.
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all (Asia Samachar, 11 Oct 2019)