what do you celebrate?

it’s probably nothing new to anyone, the fact that in my home country, we have this tiny column on our ID cards that states our religion. and the fact that our beloved country only acknowledges 5 religions is also probably nothing new. in fact, nothing i’m about to write is anything new, but it has to do with those previous sentences i just wrote.

very often, if not always, when i get to know someone new from my own home country, dearly beloved Indonesia, i encounter this question: what do you celebrate?

as in, we would shake hands, say our names, chit chat a bit like anyone meeting new people would do, and then, out of nowhere, this new person i just got to know would ask me that question. so, what do you celebrate?

this happened when i was still living in Jakarta, and happens here too whenever i get introduced to another Indonesian. and you know what? this question always irritates me.

the point to the question is that the person who asks it would then know what my religion is. asking “what do you celebrate” is probably the most discreet way of asking “what’s your religion?”, or so they think. but since it always irritates me, i always reply by asking, “what do you mean?”

which usually leads to their next question, “do you celebrate Eid al-Fitr or Christmas?” this next question would usually be said in a sheepish tone, as if they’re embarrassed to have to spell it out for me.

and you know what? this irritates me EVEN MORE. because not only do they ask what my religion or belief is, but they already presume that my religion or belief would be either one that celebrates Eid al-Fitr or one that celebrates Christmas. it cannot be anything else, no sir. only those two options.

first of all, what my religion or belief is none of your business, it’s between me and God. second of all, there’s more to celebrate in this life than just those two days you give as options.

just to make it clear now, once and for all: i celebrate ALL and NOTHING.

i rejoice when the Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadhan, the holiest month in the Islam religion. yes, i do believe that people can be “reborn” again after going through fasting for a month, be purified from their sins, and yes, it’s a great thing. therefore, i celebrate it.

i am happy when the Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. yes, i do believe in him, one of the greatest prophets of all times, it was a blessing to the whole world that he was born among us and taught us many great things about God. therefore, i celebrate his birthday.

but that’s not all.

i find my heart at peace when the Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddharta Gautama, on Vesak day. yes, i believe in him, as i believe the cycle of one’s life itself, from birth we go through life after life until we reach enlightenment. his journey on earth taught us how to keep it balanced between earthly and spiritual things, and how we are all actually one and will go back to become one. therefore, i celebrate his being and unbeing.

i am excited whenever i hear about a coming Hindu festival, be it Durga Puja, Diwali, or Holi, or anything else in between. yes, i believe in gods, as they are after all “personifications” (or “godifications”?) of the one God we are all praying to. each and every one of them has its own wisdom that teaches us all to be better beings to ourselves and to one another. therefore, i celebrate all their days.

but that is still not all.

those days that are not labeled with any religion or belief? to me, those are just the same days as the ones that are always associated with these religious celebration days. doing good deeds, fasting, being thankful, remembering one’s great teachings… they don’t have to only be done on one specific day or month. they don’t even have to be associated with any religion or belief at all. when you think of that, everyday is a celebration.

after reading this, you are free to label me as whatever you want. and no, even after all this, i’m still not going to tell you in one plain simple answer what my religion or belief is. all of that *points upwards* is my answer to your question, if you still have any. my religion/belief cannot be put into a single column on my Indonesian ID card (which i thankfully don’t have anymore). don’t pity me for this, if you think this makes me an indecisive person. i do know what my religion/belief is, and guess what? God knows it, too. πŸ˜‰ that’s enough for me.

and lastly: HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS, everyone! and yes, i do mean EVERYONE, no matter what your religion/belief is! celebrate it wisely and peacefully! πŸ™‚

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6 thoughts on “what do you celebrate?

  1. Beautifully said Puni, I get also very annoyed when the question gets to the next level. The eye-rolling when they know that my husband and I are mixed couple w/ different religions. These ppl who just know me will give me a preach, that this is bad for both of us. Rude? Yes. I can just laugh about it πŸ™‚ I celebrate everything and I love knowing other religions and its festivities πŸ˜€

    • yay! good for you, and you know what? i personally believe your future child(ren) will learn the best from each of your religions. now how can that be a bad thing?? i think that alone deserves a celebration. πŸ˜€

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