We are so lucky to visit England during Easter. Adorable lambs, happy daffodils, pale yellow primroses and the weather isn’t unbearably cold. Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his persecution and crucifixion. This spring festival is celebrated on the Sunday … Continue reading
As I stood waiting for a train, something I’ve done often during my trip to England, I fancied something warm! After my year of hot Indian weather, this Great British weather is, not so great. So, what’s more heart and soul warming than hot chocolate? I followed my chocolate addiction and cold hands to the nearest coffee shop and asked for a small hot chocolate.
The barista picked up a large cup and started making my hot chocolate. “Oh, no, sorry, I wanted a small hot chocolate”. The barista, an Indian guy, carried on making it. “Um…”, I didn’t really know what to say after that, I only had enough money for a small hot chocolate in my purse. A bit awkward, I was worried he didn’t understand me. I could see the stack of small cups so it wasn’t that they had run out of those. Oh dear, what’s going on!
“Don’t worry Bhabhi, it’s a free upgrade because you’re my Bhabhi“, the barista said with a huge smile. He had noticed my mangalsutra and the small touch of sindoor in my hair. After saying “thank you” and “are you sure?” several times and giving him a high five (I don’t know where the high five came from, I am not a regular high fiver), I enjoyed my hot chocolate and caught my train. Small acts of kindness are so beautiful!
Only hours before, my friend and I were eating dessert in a restaurant and the waiter, who wasn’t Indian, told me he liked my sindoor and asked how long I’ve been married. This all happened in multicultural London, my sindoor is often met with confusion in the part of England I am from. People usually think I have a head injury!
(Bhabhi means ‘elder brother’s wife’)
Every year, my family attend a special Christmas service held in a small village Church. During the service, carols (Christmas songs and religious hymns) are sung and stories about the birth of Lord Jesus Christ told. The Church had been beautifully decorated, as always, with candles,holly, ivy and a huge Christmas tree stood next to the altar.
During the service, between the carol singing, the rector (priest) took some time to tell us about the poinsettia plant and it’s significance at Christmas. This plant with it’s striking red leaves is always sold in supermarkets and florists during Christmas, featured in Christmas cards and decorations; and I’ve never known why. I just assumed it was because their amazing red colour was so, well, Christmasy. Just before I left India, I was surprised to see poinsettia for sale in a garden shop! They are everywhere!
Here is my retelling of the story of the Christmas plant…
The legend of a small girl called Maria has been told in Mexico since the 16th century. Maria was too poor to give a gift to the Church to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, this distressed her so much she wept for days. A beautiful angel wearing golden robes came down from heaven to comfort the weeping child,’The most precious gift you can give is your love”. Maria smiled through her tears and lovingly gathered the small weeds around her, she tied them together as neatly as she could and ran to the Church. The child placed the weeds on the altar and squeezed her eyes tightly together in prayer, when she opened them, to her amazement she saw her weeds had spouted crimson leaves in the shape of the star of Bethlehem. The star of Bethlehem is the Christmas star, the star which appeared when Jesus Christ was born. A gift given with love is the most beautiful of all.
Singing in Church is a form of worship, and going to the Christmas service was delightful and nostaglic. Christmas is a magical time of the year, I thought it would be nice to share a video of one of the Christmas carols we sang on Sunday, Merry Christmas
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him”
-Romans 15 v 13
P.S. I just had to share the photo I took two years ago at the same service, I think this photo is particularly beautiful because the sun hadn’t set, so you can see the beautiful stained glass window next to the Christmas tree!
I expected to have all of those ‘repatriation’ culture shocks, but coming back to England was like slipping back in time, into the warm slippers of my comfort zone. England is just the same as it always was, have I just woken up from a complex and life changing dream? The changes I feel are within myself, not the world around me. I feel stronger and calmer, more stable. Last time I stood on English soil, I was suffering with anxiety disorder and depression, life was difficult, looking back I am surprised I managed the journey to India in my condition! Returning to England has revealed to me how much I have changed.
India forced me face my fears head on, I was thousands of miles away from my definition of normal. Along with discovering more about my own spirituality, that push, however stressful, has given me strength that those little white pills never could (I’m talking about antidepressants)! I am pretty proud of myself and so grateful to my fabulous husband for being so supportive during my first year in India (I miss him so much!).
England is cold and Christmasy! After having a year-long summer (by English standards), that first blast of icy air when I left Heathrow airport was refreshing, it didn’t take more than a couple of second for ‘refreshing’ to become unbearable, but I did savour that moment while it lasted!
I must have eaten my weight in cheese products and already have several Christmas songs stuck in my head. Whilst I absolutely love celebrating Hindu festivals, they do not hold the magical nostalgia that Christmas has. That extra spark that I am sure my husband feels for Diwali, childhood memories and familiar traditions. It’s such a relief to see my family again and I’m feeling so excited to see some of my dear friends later this week!
So here I am, feeling like an Indian wife living an English life, wearing cosy slippers!
(The header image, for those who do not know, is of the birth of Jesus Christ and the reason for celebrating Christmas. I am planning on writing several posts about Christmas and Christmas traditions before the big event itself. Picture credit: fellowshipofminds.com)