Pic.: Gloria Pinto
For all seven days of Ganeshotsav in our Society, our Youth line up very exciting events for young, old and the little-ones. The prayer, fun and food are a very good combination… It brings all of us together… helps us forget that we belong to different castes, classes or even ages. If such get-together can enhance the quality of our lives… help us bond, forget our differences… if it can provide the little-ones, young-ones and ladies opportunities to express themselves, develop their confidence and talents… why not embrace it?
Well, whenever I am there around any festival celebration, I see this bright side of the story. God is a happy God for me… not a serious one… Not the one who stops me from bonding with people of other faiths… Not the one who doesn’t want me to honor and celebrate our differences.
Last night, I was with a group of our Society members and watching the brilliant show – singing and fashion show – of our little-ones. It was around 10 and I saw one of our very respected members parking his car. When he got off his car, I went to greet him.
“Must be very tired, sir?” I said shaking hands.
“Yes; partly due to the heavy traffic outside,” he said.
“Come, join us,” I said showing him the lit-up stage and glittering fashion show of little angels,” you will feel relaxed.”
He held my hand and gently started pressing it. A very, very sincere smile hid what he wanted to tell.
I guessed what he wanted to tell us was, “I appreciate all the lovely activities including the prayer and food… But, I may not join you… Please carry on.”
One of the men in our group, once again, said, “Come join us.”
The man held his hand and did the same thing with the same smile…
“Sir, don’t bother, you must be very tired, please proceed home,” I said to the gentleman, “You may join us on any of the days ahead.”
“I find it difficult to say this,” the gentleman said, finally, with a very honest and warm smile, “I am an agnostic.”
“But, sir, it is Ganpati… It is above religion and faith,” one of our group members tried to convince.
Only a disarming smile responded to what was being just said…
“I am always there with you,” the gentleman
stretched his hand to us, “please carry on,
Kindly don’t misunderstand me. Goodnight.”
I do not know about others in the group, but, certainly, I did not misunderstand the gentleman at all… He was warm, sincere and he bore in his heart the same goal which I did: there should be harmony, respect and celebration of our differences. He never tried to argue with any of us… Never tired to make us feel that we were into some ‘show-business’ or one-up-man-ship of some sort… Instead, he quietly asserted his view and let all of us go about cherishing our own…
I was thinking, after the gentleman had left:
“Was he not a beloved of God like me? Won’t he be blessed by God just the way God would do to me?”
I am still thinking… Yes, aloud.