Christmas is getting popular among children of all religions and specially among Hindu children. The corporate companies marketed it so much that today a lot of Hindu kid’s favorite festival is not Holi, Diwali or any regional Hindu festival but is Christmas. Something I call corporate evangelism. The growing inclination of Hindu kids towards Christmas and Christian culture has been a matter of concern for a lot of traditional Hindu parents.
There are parents who don’t like the fascination of their children about Christian festivals but they just couldn’t stop them because according to the children’s Christmas is fun. And they can’t be blamed because it was marketed in a way in India to lure the childrens. At such a time forcefully stopping your children from enjoying in the winter festival may be even worse because that might turn them into rebels against Hindu culture so the best option is to let them enjoy the winter festival in a Hindu way. There actually are a few Hindu alternatives of Christmas which the Hindu families can give a try.
1- Pancha Ganapati
Pancha Ganapati is a Hindu winter solstice festival and an alternative of Christmas proposed by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami the former head of Hawaii’s Hindu monastery. Pancha Ganapati is a five day long festival which begins on 21st December and culminates on 25th.
During each of the five days of Pancha Ganapati, the entire family focus on a special spiritual discipline, or, sadhana. Because of the festival’s importance as a new beginning and mending of all past mistakes, a shrine is created in the main living room of the home and decorated in the spirit of this festive occasion. At the center is placed a large wooden or bronze five-faced statue of Lord Ganesha. If this is not available, any large picture or statue of Ganesha will do. Ganesha is often depicted as coming from the forest; therefore, pine boughs (or banana leaves) may be used. Flashing lights, tinsel and colorful hanging ornaments may also be added. Each morning the children dress or decorate Ganesha in a different color: golden yellow on December 21, then royal blue, ruby red, emerald green and finally brilliant orange. These are the colors of His five powers, or shaktis.
During this festival gifts are exchanged. The gifts need not be expensive they should be within the means of each family. All the gifts received from day one (21st December) are to be placed in-front of Ganesha and should be opened only on the last day. In this festival the Hindu families should apologize to Ganesha for any wrong doings in the past year and pray him to remove obstacles in coming year.
2- Tulsi Pujan Divas
Tulsi Pujan Divas was proposed as an alternative of Christmas. As evergreen conifer (the Christmas tree) is a celebrated tree of Europe similarly the Indians have always celebrated the Tulsi plant which has a lot of qualities. There was time when there used to be a Tulsi plant in all Hindu households. Gone are those days now the Hindus believe that lighting up a artificial replica of a Conifer (Christmas tree) is modernity while lighting up a lamp in-front of a real Tulsi plant is superstition.
Tulsi Pujan divas aims of bringing back the Hindu people to their true roots. In Tulsi Pujan divas the Hindu people decorate a beautiful Tulsi plant in the living room. They worship the plant and sing religious songs and stories. Sweets and gifts are also to be distributed. Hindus should live a sattvik lifestyle on this auspicious day.
So next time your kid wants to celebrate Christmas you have better Hindu alternatives for him. Why don’t we start celebrating Pancha Ganapati or Tulsi Pujan Divas from next year? Or maybe both?