Celebrations - a Mirror of Eastern and Western Culture - 23 Oct 14

On the last day of school before Diwali holidays, the teachers shared some sweets at a small Diwali celebration. At this occasion, Ramona asked them, how Diwali was celebrated in their homes. They, in turn, asked her to tell a bit about the celebrations in her country. Ramona was a bit at a loss.

Of course, she told about Christmas but they wanted to know more. One of them mentioned Good Friday because it is a holiday in India as well. Well, Ramona told them, yes, there were celebrations on the Easter weekend – but already when she said the word ‘celebrations’ she knew that they would imagine it to be more than it really was.

Religious people go to church on religious holidays. A big amount of people only go on Christmas, so what is there to do on other holidays? Easter is great for children who search for chocolate and Easter eggs in house and garden. Apart from that, there is not so much to tell of!

It is true, there are holidays and the whole country has the day off but nobody performs a big ceremony on Good Friday for example! Of course, on carnival, those who are into carnival join a party. The four weeks of advent, before Christmas, are festive because you go for Christmas shopping and everywhere is decoration. For a lot of holidays however, the regular person just enjoys the day off! Religion is not so important to many people and that’s how the religious festivals are not that important either.

Here in India, celebrations are big for each holiday! And there are many more holidays, too! People celebrate all the bigger Gods and Goddesses’ birthdays, the birthdays of various saints, some full moon days and some new moon days. And for nearly every occasion, there is a pooja, a ceremony. Sometimes you light a candle and apply sandalwood-paste to deities, sometimes you offer them food, on some days women walk around a tree and on others you have to feed virgin girls. There are hundreds of different reasons to fast and when Indians remember their dead, there is more to it than just silently lighting a candle.

All in all, it is a mirror of the character of German and Indian people! The colourful, lively and sometimes overly expressive way of Indians shows in the abundant, ritualized celebrations they have on festivals with all the details and stories around it. In the same way, the organized, clean and sometimes a bit too sober way of Germans is expressed in the simple way that they go about their holidays, often creating small family traditions to just make it a nice, private day.

It is difficult to explain the big difference of those two cultures in words – it is something you have to experience. We at the Ashram live with a connection of those two cultures and are additionally not religious at all. That’s how we enjoy celebrations in a beautiful, non-religious way.

Today is the day of Diwali and while we are getting ready now to put up the oil lamps and then fill our belly with delicious sweets, you can mentally join us – and enjoy Diwali with us!

I wish all of you a very happy Diwali!

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