Monday, 25 January, 2021
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OPINION

Clash Of Cultures



Parmeshwar Devkota

Considered as a land of milk and honey, the United States of America (USA) attracts the people from around the world. They go to the US in the search of better education and job. Many of them end up settling there and never return to their native land. This is the reason why the US has turned into multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society.
Because of this multiculturalism, when the people of one belief celebrate their festival of sacrifice, others observe a ritual of remembering their forefathers in the US. If a family celebrates only one festival of a certain culture, it may not face any dilemma. But if the family marks cultural festivals of more than one religion, then it is likely to encounter some kind of trouble.
Nepali-origin Americans have now come across such a critical situation. Some members of a family of my friend who are in America as permanent residents have been accustomed to mark Hindu as well as Christian festivals simultaneously.
But, they had to undergo an acid test this time.
Thanksgiving, the harvest festival, falls on the fourth Thursday in November in the US. It is a federal holiday there. The sacred Hindu Haribodhini Ekadashi of this year also happened on the same day. From the point of view of celebration, the two cultural festivals are entirely different in manner and temperament.
During the Thanksgiving festival, there is a ritual of sacrificing turkey. Aela-Choila and other soft and hard drinks, as common in the American culture, are allowed in this festival. It is because the dinner consists of indigenous foods and dishes. But the Haribodhini Ekadashi, also called the Thuli Ekadashi, is the festival when sacred offerings are made to Lord Bishnu.
In this festival, the holy basil plant, which is considered as the incarnation of the Lord Bishnu, is worshiped. In the Hindu culture, the worship of Lord Bishnu has immense importance since the Vedic period. It is believed that Lord Vishnu, who has been asleep since Harishyani Ekadashi, wakes up on Haribodhini Ekadashi. That is why the Sanatan practitioners get up early in the morning, pour water on tulasi (basil plant) and worship it. On this day, they may call a pundit to recite some Vedic stanzas. The pundit gives tika and prasad. The host offers fruits and rice pudding to the pundit and girls and other guests. They all refrain from eating meat on this auspicious day.
When an elderly woman belonging to a Nepali American family knew her children were preparing for celebrating the Thanksgiving Day without knowing the importance of Haribodhini Eksadashi and its sanctity, she put up a proposal before her children for postponing the Thanksgiving for another day. She convinced them to offer prayers to Lord Bishnu on the fourth Thursday. The children accepted her proposal.
There persists doubt whether the new generation people agree on a humble proposal of his/her grandma. However, they accepted her plea in a country where mature politicians are still clashing over outcomes of democratic elections. This is really a good example of harmony and understanding shown by the new generation. Such considerate feelings are necessary to sustain family values and Nepali culture in an alien land which is known as a melting pot. 

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