Townie guide to… Hindu for the holidays

Monday, December 15, 2008

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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. “