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History of Thanksgiving: Find out how the American Festival is linked to Hindu Roots!

Thanksgiving, one of the major American festivals about relishing the bonds with your family and friends over shared meals is said to have Hindu roots

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Thanksgiving day. Image source: Wikimedia commons
  • Thanksgiving, one of the major American festivals is said to have Hindu roots in Richard’s book Soul Journey: From Lincoln to Lindbergh
  • In the book, Thanksgiving’s relation to Hindu’s was based on the fact that Sir Abraham Lincoln repeatedly choose Thursdays as national days of prayer
  • Thanksgiving resonates with Diwali where people share food with the hungry and poor just like the former

It’s very easy for a man to sit and wonder about all the things he has lost in life, as life will never let you feel at ease. It’ll never let you feel you’ve got it all sorted! Hence, comes the day of Thanksgiving for his rescue. A time where people give thanks for all that they are blessed with. There’s stuffed turkey, cranberries and a glass of wine on a table shared with families and friends. Although historically speaking, Thanksgiving has its roots in USA and Canada but many nations around the world celebrate it in a secular manner.

But as an Indian-American do you feel left out while you stand and watch a thanksgiving parade pass by? Are Diwali, Holi and the other 99 festivals occupying the entire year not enough for you? Fret not, I present to you the real Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving in the word’s of Richard salve’s book–Soul Journey: From Lincoln to Lindbergh. It’s here to make you feel part of this very American holiday. Now, there’s a way to turn the whole thing vegetarian in an Indian way.

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Abraham Lincoln. Image Source: Wikimedia commons
Sir Abraham Lincoln. Image Source: Wikimedia commons

Soul Journey talks about President Abraham Lincoln’s Hindu origin. It claims that Lincoln was a Himalayan Yogi in his past life and after his death as the 16th President of the United States, he was reborn as Charles Lindbergh. These claims are based on a statement made by Yogananda. Not just this, there were 500 such connections made between Lincoln, Lindbergh, and the Himalayan Yogi.

In the book, Thanksgiving’s relation to Hindu’s was based on the fact that Sir Abraham Lincoln repeatedly choose Thursdays as national days of prayer and fasting, also Thursday is an important holy day in the Indian scriptures where people fast and pray in a similar fashion. It’s interesting to note here that for Hindu’s each day is considered auspicious and is dedicated to one of the 330 million Hindu Gods.

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If the above subtle connection is not going down your throat well then probably the book’s hypothesis that Lincoln set some time aside on Thursdays to grieve over his son, willie’s death might help strengthen the Lincoln and Thursday ideology. The Himalayan Yogi + Auspicious Hindu Thursday’s are an Indian-American’s only tool to not come up short and make his “Thanksgiving, great again”.

On a more serious note, Thanksgiving that was established as an American holiday in 1863 by Lincoln is all about relishing the bonds with your family and friends over shared meals; meals that are not within a poor man’s reach. It’s about giving thanks for the bounty of the harvest and sharing it with the lucked out men and women. Hence, bowing down to the temptation of drawing parallels between American Thanksgiving and Hindu festivals of celebrating the bounty and expressing gratitude towards family members, I feel the need to connect the dots and say that this holiday resonates with Deepawali, which interestingly roughly coincides with Thanksgiving. Diwali is a festival of lights that thanks’ God for all his blessings.

– prepared by Karishma Vanjani of NewsGram. Twitter: @BladesnBoots

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When shall we see a Turkey-less Thanksgiving Day?

According to American Turkey Association, 44 Million Turkeys are 'enjoyed' on Thanksgiving Day

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Thanksgiving Day and Turkey killing go together
Thanksgiving Day and Turkey killing go together. Pixabay

Chicago:

Tomorrow (November 24) is the popular Thanksgiving Day in USA. Observed on the fourth Thursday of November, it is a much awaited holiday. It also kind of sets off the holiday season of the winters that ends with the celebrations of New year.

Thanksgiving Day has its roots in settlers (pilgrims) in Plymouth celebrating a feast after the successful harvest that season. That was in 1621. But the Thanksgiving has continued and today it is an occasion to express thanks and gratitude to one’s own blessings to life and opportunities and one’s beliefs in general. Thus, rightly so, Thanksgiving Day is the occasion to give alms and do charity. This is the day for people to come together as families and count the blessings and celebrate the life together. Thanksgiving Dinner thus is considered a very special feast.

44 Million Turkeys are 'enjoyed' on Thanksgiving Day
Picture of a Turkey . 44 Million Turkeys are ‘enjoyed’ on Thanksgiving Day. Pixabay

Thanksgiving and food go together. After all, supper is an occasion to meet, share and celebrate. Amongst all the food and beverages, Turkey is the unifying theme. Turkey is served on this day as a mark of Thanksgiving. How so ever painful it may sound, the stark reality is that Thanksgiving comes at the altar of turkeys. They are sacrificed so that we can celebrate thanksgiving. I read somewhere that 88 % Americans eat turkey on this day, according to a survey conducted by American Turkey Association. Looking at sheer numbers, 44 Million turkeys are ‘enjoyed’ on Thanksgiving Day.

 

 

Thanksgiving Day stands to symbolize a very beautiful human sentiment: Thankfulness in general and gratitude in particular. That is why it so bothers me to see how such a humane expression is oblivious to the cruelty that carries along with!

Will we ever observe a Turkey-less Thanksgiving Day?
After all, when turkey can get a Presidential Pardon, why not a Public Pardon?

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Thanksgiving Day Across the World

Thanksgiving Day is celebrated across the world and for each country, it has its own tale and tradition around food and days.

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Thanksgiving Day celebrations
Happy Thanksgiving Day, Wikimedia Commons

Thanksgiving Day. The name stands for itself as the day to give thanks and is celebrated as a national holiday in many countries like United States of America, Canada, Netherlands, Philippines, Grenada, Liberia while similarly named festival exists in Germany, Japan, and United Kingdom.
Thanksgiving holiday remains a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

America
The official date for the American Thanksgiving that exists today was set by President Roosevelt to be on the fourth Thursday in November instead of the last Thursday in November as decided by President Lincoln as thanksgiving date.
But their thanksgiving is surrounded by a debate over the nation’s first celebrations and the two places embroiled in this debate are New England and Virginia as both the places provide certain proofs of being the spot for nation’s first celebrations for Thanksgiving.

Canada
Canadian Thanksgiving tradition is celebrated in the true spirit of giving thanks at the close of the harvest season. It is believed that due to the geographical differences from the USA, Canada’s Thanksgiving arrives on the second Monday in October as that is the close of their harvest season.

But in countries like Liberia, Netherlands, and Grenada, it is not just a day to give thanks at the close of the harvest season.

Liberia
In Liberia, Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated to mark the freedom from black slavery by the U.S.A. The Thanksgiving day’s date remains on the first Thursday of November and has been a tradition since 1820.

Netherlands
Netherlands celebrate thanksgiving to mark to commemorate the Pilgrims who had migrated and became residents of the city of Leiden and died at Pieterskerk. To commemorate the hospitality, the thanksgiving, a non-denominational Thanksgiving Day is celebrated as the same as American Thanksgiving Day’s morning.

But there are some countries like the Philippines where the tradition of Thanksgiving only arrived with the Americans due to it being an American colony in the early 20th century but the tradition of Thanksgiving there had seemed to die down.

Food:
The American Thanksgiving seems to dominate the Thanksgiving menu when it comes to this holiday. Their famous turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, pies, mashed potatoes, and yams are signature dishes related to this day.

Black Friday:
Not only food, American Thanksgiving has also made Black Friday, an informal day following the Thanksgiving Day to mark the beginning of their country’s Christmas season sales and it has been in the history books since 1952 such that it has become a tradition of its own now.

Thanksgiving Day remains an occasion for many families to get back together and celebrate this holiday in the spirit of one while giving the rise to the excitement of upcoming Christmas also which remains barely a month away from Thanksgiving day.

Samridhi Nain is a student of Philosophy (Hons.) from University of Delhi.

 

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Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here

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hindus
Hinduism. Pixabay

Oct 06, 2017: Have you ever wondered what being a Hindu means? Or who is actually fit to be called a Hindu? Over centuries, Hindus and Indians alike have asked this question to themselves or their elders at least once in their lifetime.

In the 1995 ruling of the case, “Bramchari Sidheswar Shai and others Versus State of West Bengal” the court identified seven defining characteristics of Hinduism but people are still confused to what exactly defines being a Hindu in the 21st century. It’s staggering how uninformed individuals can be about their own religion; according to a speech by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya there are various common notions we carry about who a Hindu is:

  • Anyone born in India is automatically a Hindu
  • If your parents are Hindu, you’re are also inevitably a Hindu
  • If you believe in reincarnation, you’re a Hindu
  • If you follow any religion practiced in India, you’re a Hindu
  • And lastly, if you are born in a certain caste, you’re a Hindu

After answering these statements some fail to remove their doubts on who a Hindu is. The question arises when someone is unsure on how to portray themselves in the society, many people follow a set of notions which might/might not be the essence of Hinduism and upon asked why they perform a particular ritual they are clueless. The problem is that the teachings are passed on for generations and the source has been long forgotten, for the source is exactly where the answer lies.

Religion corresponds to scriptural texts

The world is home to many religions and each religion has its own uniqueness portrayed out of the scriptures and teachings which are universally accepted. So to simplify the dilemma one can say that determining whether someone belongs to a particular religion is directly related to whether he/she follows the religious scriptures of the particular religion, and also whether they abide to live by the authority of the scriptural texts.

Christianity emerges from the guidance of the Gospels and Islam from the Quran where Christians believe Jesus died for their sins and Muslims believe there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet. Similarly, Hinduism emerges from a set of scriptures known as the Vedas and a Hindu is one who lives according to Dharma which is implicated in the divine laws in the Vedic scriptures.By default, the person who follows these set of religious texts is a Hindu.

Also Read: Christianity and Islam don’t have room for a discourse. Hindus must Stop Pleasing their former Christian or Muslim masters, says Maria Wirth 

Vedas distinguishes Hindu from a Non-Hindu

Keeping this definition in mind, all the Hindu thinkers of the traditional schools of Hindu philosophy accept and also insist on accepting the Vedas as a scriptural authority for distinguishing Hindus from Non-Hindus. Further implying the acceptance of the following of Bhagwat Gita, Ramayana, Puranas etc as a determining factor by extension principle as well.

Bottom Line

So, concluding the debate on who is a Hindu we can say that a person who believes in the authority of the Vedas and lives by the Dharmic principles of the Vedas is a Hindu. Also implying that anyone regardless of their nationality i.e. American, French or even Indian can be called a Hindu if they accept the Vedas.

– Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram                                                                

(the article was originally written by Shubhamoy Das and published by thoughtco)

One response to “Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here”

  1. Hindu is a historical name for people living “behind the river Indus”. So, everyone living in India is a Hindu, eventhough he might have a different faith.

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