Palm trees, burning sun… What’s this Christmas all about?

Sitting in the shade of a coconut tree in front of the house, overlooking the shimmering colours of the Arabian Sea and reminiscing about Christmas. 8 years ago I exchanged my life in a metropolitan city in Europe for a life at a deserted beach in central Kerala, south India for whatever reasons that are still not fully known to me. 😉

True to my own tradition, I planted a Christmas tree into the sandy soil 7 years ago and unlike other tropical plants which have grown into lush giants over time, the foreign species of a pine tree has remained more or less the same, so that this year I could decorate it together with my 4-year-old daughter. Celebrating Christmas in the middle of a tropical paradise started to make sense to me only after I could share this tradition with my daughter. We would speak about “ježíšek” (baby Jesus) and she would ask me if he had needles. (She confused the word ježíšek with the word ježek, meaning hedgehog) 🙂

The importance of a snowy landscape, the scent of Christmas pastry and the twinkling of Christmas lights disappeared in a second as soon as I saw the magic sparkle in my daughter’s eyes. It was the very same sparkle that I used to see as a child in the eyes of my parents, brother and sister in front of the fully lit Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. At that moment I realised that the feeling of sharing, belonging and togetherness is much more important than the external conditions.

As everywhere in the world also in India Christmas is regarded as a Christian tradition. Children get long holidays regardless of the fact if their God is called Allah, Rama or Santa. So the holiday spirit is definitely in the air even with 33 degrees air temperature. The colorful paper Christmas stars light up in the evening on all houses regardless of creed. I remember one incident that struck me during one of my first visits to India. We were traveling around with a group and all were Hindus. As part of our round trip, we visited a church. As soon as the members of the group approached the altar, all bowed down on their knees as a sign of respect. Growing up with the idea of religious segregation, I was blown away by this sight.

It is maybe not by accident that this year I am spending Christmas Eve in Amma’s ashram at Amritapuri. Thousands of people flock to the ashram to wait hours in a queue (we waited for 2,5) to receive Amma’s darshan (tight hug on her breast and a whisper of a mantra in the ear) The sound of mantras and Xmas carols in many different languages fill the air. People’s eyes water with love and devotion. This is the real Christmas, I thought.

While I waited in the queue I had enough time to think about what I wish for this Xmas. And voilà: I wish for less ego and more compassion in the world starting with myself. Why do we have that sense of ownership? Why always me? Why always mine? If we give up the idea that only by the sense of ownership we do acquire existence, can there be any more scope for conflict or war? I wish for everyone to acquire the right ego knowing when to act and when to take a step back. And for now, there is only one left to say: Merry Christmas or rather Hare Christmas! 😉