for The Huffington Post on Dec. 18, 2012
"In the current festive "Holiday" season, it would be reasonable to invoke the Santa "Clause" as a justification for embracing the legendary, mythic, white-bearded, plump, gift-giving, philanthropist, who is the implementer and remunerator of justice."
That festive "Holiday" season is again upon us. As I've mentioned in an earlier HuffPost blog, "Diaspora Hinduism and the December Dilemma," the season is a challenging one for members of the Hindu Diaspora.
Diaspora Hindus often reflect upon the degree to which they and their children have acculturated ("the process of adapting to the norms of the dominant culture") or assimilated ("adaptation status in which individuals absorb the culture of the dominant group while they reject the norms of the heritage culture"). Remarkably, the assimilation and acculturation issues faced by Diaspora Hindus were anticipated in the Visnu Purana (4.24.70-97) wherein it is observed: "People will follow the customs of others and will be adulterated with them." This passage is found in a set of passages concerning the traditional story of the four yugas (ages). According to this narrative, the universe proceeds through a cycle of four yugas. These yugas -- namely, Krta (the first), Treta (second), Dvapara (third) and Kali (fourth age) -- are distinguished by the degree to which the sentient beings of the universe adhere to dharma (law or proper behavior). In Krta-yuga, dharma was upheld, while in Kali-yuga , it is ignored. Current times, not surprisingly, are believed to be Kali-yuga . And the acculturation and assimilation of Diaspora Hindus into a largely Christian country is, as per this lens, proof of the inevitable and unavoidable decline and dissolution of dharma. And this, of course, was predicted as evident in the astute passage from the Visnu Purana.
With this sense of impending doom and apocalypse in Kali-yuga, Hindus are permitted (or excused) for their transgressions. Hindus who have gone (or who have been led) astray are merely breaking the rules because of the crisis of modernity, globalization, immigration and the complexity of a situation that is beyond their control in which all traditional rules have disintegrated. They are only following (or attempting or aspiring to follow) dharma (dutiful behavior) in the time of extremity (apad-dharma ), preeminently exemplified in Kali-yuga. This stipulation, this clause, this loophole in the contract of dharma thus permits Diaspora Hindus to (reluctantly) assimilate and acculturate.
It thus follows that, in the current festive "Holiday" season, it would be reasonable to invoke the Santa "Clause" as a justification for embracing the legendary, mythic, white-bearded, plump, gift-giving, philanthropist, who is the implementer and remunerator of justice.
So, Disapora Hindus can and do have a Santa Claus(e).
Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-sarma/the-hindu-santa-clause-shanta-klosha_b_2248292.html