The short answer to this question is: Of course they do. Eye-opening as it might seem, about three quarters of our Native population subscribe to some form of secular or religious faith, with Catholicism being the most common. The long answer is that the contemporary American Indian has a distinct tendency to rely on faith and hope, not unlike most people across this great country. American Indians, whether living in suburbia or on reservations, live in a duality of sorts when it comes to religion or beliefs. We have our traditional beliefs and our culture, which to us is a form of religion, and then we have the outside religions. Many of us still follow our ancestral traditions and still consult our Tribal Medicine people when we feel the need. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to see an Indian receive communion at a Catholic church on Sunday. Considering the role that religion has played in the past for our people, in the era when when when we were forcibly placed on reservations, forced to attend Boarding Schools, and deprived of speaking our languages, it astonishes me that we now accept the edicts of religion so easily.
Some of us believe in a higher power, whether that being is described as the Creator, Tunkashila, or Jesus Christ; we respect all religions, and the right for people to practice their individual beliefs. So yes, those of us who are Christians celebrate Christmas, and pay homage to all that it represents religiously. We put up our Christmas tree, add the colorful lights, and take delight in the joy of our loved ones when they open their gifts, just like everyone else. We know the gesture of giving very well; we have giveaways for special occasions all year, not just once a year. Our ancestors practiced the act of giving in a very humble way; our Grandmas and Grandpas passed it on. Our cultural belief is that by giving, you give of yourself and your spirit to the recipient.
We take pleasure in seeing the twinkle in an elder s eye when a gift is given, and treasure that same twinkle in a little one s eye when a gift is received. Merry Christmas to all, those who no longer are with us, those who are sick, those who protect our freedom and are in harms way and their families, and to all the innocent little ones of the world. May we all pray for everlasting peace amongst all who walk on Mother Earth. Aho.
The very first time I arrived in India I stepped out of the car from the airport and heard a very familiar tune. I stood there for a moment observing the Diwali lights and realized that I was hearing Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells coming from the lights at the house across the street from my husbands home. PPThe second time I visited was the dayPafter Christmas and you could see homes here and there throughout New Delhi with their Christmas lights and Christmas stars in their windows.
PChristmas is observed in India if you look for it. India has mainly Hindu and Muslim however over the years Christmas has become an annual ritual celebrated by many. P There are around 3% of the population who are Christians that attend a midnight mass where the churches arePdecorated with poinsettias and lit with manyPcandles. P However you can also observe it being celebrated in a secular way by findingPChristmas trees in the malls,Pupscale hotels, and in front of some sweet and card stores at Christmas time. When IPdiscussed Christmas withPmy husbands family who live in New Delhi, which is a very large city, they said that in their family the did observe Christmas. P They had the day off from work and from school, which is common for many holidays in India. P They said that they exchanged one gift with each other. P My mother in law even mentioned that she had Christmas Performances at her school which was run by Christian missionaries.
P I m sure other regions in India are different as well. I m so excited toPshare with you ways that are family is teaching our children about their heritage from India. P Here s a fun way to create an ornament using your child s initial in another language. P We choose to make both girls first initial in Hindi to hang on our Christmas Tree. My sister in law had this brilliant idea last Christmas and shared it on her website, P She wanted me to share this with our readers too! To make simplyPuse aPglass ornament and hot glue sequins onto it using the outline of the letter your child s name starts with. PPClick here for theP. P You could very easily so their whole name with smaller sequins too or in another language. For my daughter s first Christmas here is a littleP baby onesie shapePthat was created for her. P On the front it s letter K and on the back it s letter K in Hindi.