The Indian Christmas tree

In my home in India, my family usually understand that I have other customs and habits and they try to give me space for my culture, my epistemology, too. While such respect often is a matter of difficulties and debates in my other homeland, Sweden, it is not in India. My daughter told me what happened when her Indian family made an effort to celebrate Christmas for the first time, for the sake of her happiness.

Finding a Christmas tree in this area of Delhi wasn’t an easy task but in a store that have absolutely everything you possible can think of, the owner handed over a plastic Christmas tree with dignity. Back at home this tree was covered with all kinds of ornaments that had been left over from earlier Indian holidays, while all kinds of food was prepared in the kitchen. The rooms were decorated and  lights were put up because a festival without lights in India is not a festival. With the Christmas tree in the center, relatives came by to participate in the Christian festival as they now had a member of the family from a Christian culture.

All the preparations and celebrations were performed as a natural event in this epistemic rich and differentiated part of the world. Any joy of the family or community or neighborhood is everybody’s joy. The peak of the evening came when my mother in law in the most natural way participated in the festival by ritually putting a hundred rupee bill under the Christmas tree and bowed her head in respect as she would do in a ceremony according to her own tradition. I think my mother in law highlighted that you will not loose your own culture by adding elements of another. Epistemic justice is not dangerous for a person grounded in a culture that is strong enough to leave room for other epistemologies.

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