We are Hindus, but we have a Christmas tree in our living room. My daughter and I picked out the tree at the local store along with red and green ornaments to decorate the tree. As soon as my husband came home from work, he opened the box, stood the tree up, while I placed the skirt around its bottom. Amidst all of this preparation, my daughter is screaming, “Momma and Daddy, It’s Christmas at my house.” She tries to hang the ornaments and as she finishes, we put the plug in the socket and the lights, with its millions little eyes, illuminate the corner space in the living room.
In the exact opposite corner of this room, facing the Christmas tree, is a small silver and gold temple. If you open the door to this mini-temple, you will find a statue of Krishna, one of many gods that are a part of the Hindu faith. By day, my daughter will sing Christmas carols and by night she will lull herself to sleep by singing Hindu worship songs. So when we sit down to admire the tree, I know my daughter has no idea that December 25th is the day that commemorates the birth of Jesus. She has heard the word Jesus a few times, but like the word Krishna, I am not sure if she knows what either word really means or signifies.
For some, I understand that having two very differing religious symbols could be problematic. I think we are often taught that if we believe in one religion, we should exclude another. For me, it isn’t that clear of line. I know that my daughter doesn’t know what these symbols mean, as I didn’t when my Hindu parents put up a Christmas tree in their home, but the purpose behind this is much broader. As my daughter gets older and begins to understand what Jesus and Krishna means, I hope she embraces religious tolerance.