Townie guide to… Hindu for the holidays

Monday, December 15, 2008


Apu Chakraborty

Apu Chakraborty, attorney who digs politics, drinking, and running

Growing up Hindu in the United States, did you ever feel like a Democrat at a Bass Pro Shop? A black guy at a David Sedaris reading? A Blagojevich at an ethics seminar?

“I don't think that it was so much feeling like there was discrimination as opposed to being a kid and not understanding how little other people knew about Hinduism. Early on I actually believed in Hinduism—as opposed to now when it's nothing—and had a conversation with a neighbor who was a pastor, and I remember how he refused to even entertain the debate that there could be more than one god. Oddly, Hinduism is a monotheistic religion as well—just a different god, I guess. I think that 25 years ago nobody was forced to think globally and it was easy to pretend that everyone was Christian. I don't know. At least I could sleep in on Sundays. I am also a Democrat and I love fishing.”

Do Hindus have an equivalent to Christmas or Hanukkah? Is there a Ganeshapalooza or Kali Kwanzaa?

“Hinduism is way older than Christianity and there are a ton of holidays. The ‘big one’ is a function of which party of India you are from and depends on your family. My family's big holiday is Durga Puja, a celebration to the goddess Durga, which is in early October.”

Does your family recognize Christmas, just without all of that Jesus baggage?

“Yeah, we had a tree growing up with presents and all that.”

Are you ever resentful that you're getting a constant face-full of holly jolly jizz this time of year?

“Not really. If people need a tree to get into the mood and do some good, then I support that. What I don't like is the idea that the government gets involved, however marginally. And I do want to kick in the face anyone who complains about the government's supposed secularization of Christmas. I think people frequently confuse government with the private sector. Again, government is government and should stay away from religion.”

Any advice for those non-Santaists trying to survive the holidays?

“Nah. I don't really mind Christmas and I don't mind good cheer. “