Christmas is an important time of year for Christians all over the world, including Pakistan. As fellow Pakistanis, it’s our duty to allow them to celebrate this time without any dissent or disapproval, but Rosheen Sohail feels that with time, people are forgetting about the spirit of Christmas and being less tolerant. Scroll down to read her article. And Merry Christmas – let’s not forget to spread that holiday cheer, regardless of religion.
The word Christmas itself brings warmth when you think about it. Since childhood, I remember every Christmas being about family and friends. The whole gang would gather around heaters feasting on nuts, oranges or Christmas cakes, with constant laughter in our ears and festive decor all around us. The element of hope is another thing that makes Christmas so special; Christ coming down to Earth and being the saving grace of the whole world. Christians far and wide wait for this one month because it represents everything we as humans want our lives to be – it is warm, joyous, hopeful, and just simply beautiful. And for a month, we can pretend that all our problems have vanished because Christmas fills our hearts with excitement.
Living in Pakistan, I have always found myself being asked the stupidest of questions like – “Do you ever think of converting because we have our namaz five times a day and you go to church only on Sundays?” It used to bother me when I was a child but now I just answer the questions the best I can. But one thing everyone found fascinating was Christmas; such is the power of this time of the year. I had always known and believed that Christmas held the power of thawing even the coldest of hearts.
However, in recent times I have come to see that Christmas seems to be losing that power with the people of Pakistan. Only a while ago, my mom seemed to bear the brunt of this intolerance that has been taking over Pakistan. A parent was not happy that my mother came from a different faith and was worried that the school would now start celebrating Christmas and Diwali. My mother has been a devoted teacher in the past and her commitment has now only increased tenfold as a principal of a renowned school. She loves her children and she loves making them upstanding citizens of Pakistan. Yet, when the parents wanted to see if my mother could do a good job with their children, it was her faith they judged her on.
I come from a highly educated family. All my family has worked in Pakistan and shown devotion and loyalty without measure. Funnily, most of the members of my family have been educationists and have spent their lives redeeming various generations of Pakistan. I have time and time again talked about how unsafe Pakistan is for its minorities. We live with that fear and so it has now become such a part of our lives that we can’t even imagine living without.
Christmas was the one time that we felt like the world around us did not mind us celebrating our faith. Now, ministers from our government have to apologise because the word Christmas got included in textbooks. Christmas was always a time that we shared with not only family but friends as well. This joy and hope and warmth was supposed to be for the whole world and we liked sharing it with the people around us. The differences were always there but these differences were put aside during these special occasions. For one day it seemed like the whole nation came together to celebrate this one day.
Christmas was one time the intolerance in Pakistan was taken down a notch. I remember friends wanting to take part in putting up the Christmas decorations. The essence of Christianity filled up the world and most importantly Pakistan. We liked sharing the magic of Christmas with everyone. For a month, the world was all about peace and joy and hope. Now, it just seems like a thing of the past, a time when Christmas was not only special for the people of the faith but the people around us as well. Now, there are times I find myself wishing for those times when ministers did not have to apologise, when our faith was our own business and when everyone wanted a part in the wonderment of Christmas. As Christians, it’s all about sharing the joy of Christmas with the whole world. For us, it is not just about cake and decorations and lights. It is about hope for the world and we liked sharing it with the Pakistani nation. I just hope there comes a day when we can go back to those days where Christmas was not just a season important to us but was meant for all of Pakistan.
Cover Image: Dawn Images