Christmas – A New Spin on Gift giving

Dr (Pundit) Roshan Singh

DAAN – In Hinduism

In Sanskrit charity is called daan. The giver should give daan with a pure heart and the taker too should receive it with a glad heart. Daan is not made on a take-it or leave-it basis. Zakaat and Tides by the Muslim and Christian are done in a similar manner respectively.

TIDES – In Christianity

Gift-giving is one of the good manners that maintains and strengthens relations between the giver and the recipient. In the Holy Bible it is stated in Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again and in Acts 20:35 – I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

ZAKAAT – In Islam

All fasts, feasts and festivals that are observed and celebrated are known as the mothers of devotion when an individual is given an opportunity to take stock of one’s life and to make amends where one is going wrong. During the time of Ramadaan the Muslim fasts every day for an entire month and ends this penance by celebrating on the day of Eid and gives in charity to show love and care to the down trodden and needy.

Hindu’s celebrate Diwali and many other festivals and conclude with the giving of mitaai (sweetmeats) to their family, friends and relatives. On the other hand the Christian observes Christmas and looks forward to this day to celebrate the appearance of Lord Jesus Christ on this planet to redeem them of their sins.

Over the years there has been a great shift from the real merit of these observances to sense gratification and in so doing forgetting the deeper meanings of these festivals. It has become a mood when people feed the fed instead of giving to the poor and needy. In the Holy Quran it is said that charity is given to the poor and the needy to meet their needs, and is done with the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah. Charity and gift giving are both righteous deeds indeed. The former is to give to someone in need and this pleases the Lord while the latter is to seek the honour and gratitude of the recipient who might not actually require such a gift.

Although the practice of giving charity spans across cultures and faiths, in Islam it is linked with the worship of God and achieving the state of righteousness. No worshipping of Allah is accepted as valid when a person who is in a position to give does not give. Whenever the scriptures of the Holy Qur’an order Muslims to pray to Allah, right after that they are ordered to give charity.

The Hindu believes that helping those in need is the essence of daan and this is done at the conclusion of any pious act. The special act of giving to the hungry, those that are in need of knowledge, land and protection are regarded as daan and earn one great merit in one’s next life. There are many stories in ancient lore where a family would rather stave than turn a beggar away. They did this only to earn the true merit of giving.

The mood in this day and age has shifted greatly from giving food, clothing and shelter to the poor and needy to giving expensive gifts to family, friends and relatives who do not really need anything that is given to them. At times persons do this as a matter of habit or for some recognition from those that receive such gifts.   How often you hear people complain about what was given to them as a gift. Is this a question to need, want or greed.

I pray that as we move into the holy festival of Christmas, a festival that is celebrated by Hindu, Muslim and Christian alike – that we spend some of our hard earned money on performing righteous deeds in thinking of the poor and needy and thereby earn some spiritual merit. We are living in very troubling times and it will simply get worse as the clock tick forward. Save your hard earned money for the rainy days that await you in 2019 and simultaneously give part of your earnings to the poor.

In conclusion I wish to leave you with this verse from the Holy Bible :

“Lay not yourselves up for treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal;

but lay yourself up for treasures in heaven, where moth nor rust doth corrupt not and where thieves do not break through and steal.

For where your heart is, there will be your treasure lye be forever.” Matt. 6:19-21

The great sage Kabir said :

Jo diya sabkutch paya, Jo na diya sabkutch gawaya

Mutti bandh aaye diwana haat pasaar ke anth to jaana

Tera tirat he lamba bhai karle is jag me jo kutch achayi

MEANING : The man who gave, gained everything and the man who did not give lost it all at the time of death.

We have come into the world with clenched fists carrying the seeds of our karma and leave this world discarding everything that we claimed to be ours. Christmas is one festival that is celebrated by Hindu, Muslim and Christian alike. Let us not forget that it was on this day that Lord Jesus Christ appeared on this planet. It should be a day of fast and prayer. Do not kill poor harmless animals nor take alcohol on this day as this is what the Lord would have wanted. Let us unite on this most glorious day to remember the sacrifice made by Christ by giving his life to save mankind of our sins.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS AND A PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR

Your ever well wisher

Dr (Pundit) Roshan Singh

Leave a Reply