This Thanks Giving Day
As North America and many other parts of the world celebrate the Thanks Giving Day (though on different dates), we are simply reminded to be grateful for what we have. Virtually all our possessions are gifts from others. It begins with our own parents who gave birth to us, sacrificed their comfort, and offered everything they could to let us become who we are today.
The teachers, who gave us both material and spiritual knowledge, set the foundation of our lives and they are directly adjacent to our parents’ contributions. So, paying respect by doing something for them is truly thanksgiving.
The soldiers, police officers, firefighters, and EMS service people – all risk their lives so that our lives are protected and peaceful. Without their sacrifices, we cannot live.
When we see a senior citizen we automatically show respect to them. It reflects our innate human sense of gratitude toward them; because of their contributions this society lives. It does not matter whether a person is a doctor, a telephone worker, an engineer, a car mechanic or an agricultural laborer – all of them contribute uniquely to ensure that our basic needs are met. And thus all of us share our gifts in the form of ideas, innovation, creativity and labor. When we look around our house – almost everything was created by someone other than us; even the clothes covering our bodies are the gift of a tailor – who more than likely received a meager compensation!
In India, though there are special celebrations dedicated to the new harvest and worship, these festivals take deeper roots and present gratefulness as a means to perform one’s duty every day. The unique idea of ‘rna’ or rina has long been a part of Indian tradition. It is loosely defined as ‘debt’ but the true essence of the phrase can be defined as duties and obligations for ‘honoring’ others’ gifts in our lives.
There are three types of rnas which ensure the continuation of the traditions of the saints by certain mandatory practices. These are classified as rishi-rna, or obligations to the seers and teachers, deva-rna, obligations to the manifestations of divine power, and pitri-rna or obligations to the ancestors. There are specific activities and ceremonies performed for each of these rnas as duties. One is expected to remember the divine forces, the rishis (seers) and the ancestors. This also ensures that the seers are remembered and understood so that they continue to take birth in the future; teachers are respected and supported for education to flourish and finally, by taking care of the family and the next of kin, we pay homage to the ancestors. Most Indian harvest festivals are associated with praying and offerings to various deities, especially to Lakshmi.
And not to mention the mother of us all – the motherland and mother earth. We all have an equal responsibility to respect and protect all of Nature.
So, people of Indian origin everywhere can celebrate the Thanks Giving day in two distinct ways – offer prayers to their favorite deities and their ancestors, and make sure to spend time with loved ones and say hello to neighbors and strangers with a benevolent smile. A phone call to a friend or a relative who we have not interacted with for a long time can renew an old bond. Finally, nothing expresses thankfulness more than charity to the needy. We can easily discern whether a ‘thank you’ is coming from the ‘bottom of our heart’ or just from our lips! Reminders from two great people makes us dive deep and help others:
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Why should we do good to the world? Apparently to help the world, but really to help ourselves….. If you do good at all, you do it to yourself; feel that the receiver is the higher one. You serve the other because you are lower than he, not because he is low and you are high. Give as the rose gives perfume, because it is its own nature, utterly unconscious of giving.” – Swami Vivekananda.