[Marxism] Celebrating Death

Marla Vijaya kumar marlavk at yahoo.com
Thu Apr 11 21:51:21 MDT 2013


Dear Manuel,
            You said: "But then, I came to revolutionary consciousness precisely in abhorrence to the hypocrisy of religion and the "expectations" I was given to accede in cultural heritage; somehow, to be a "Mexican" I was supposed to be a Catholic, prefer only rice and beans, be submissive, come from a migrant background and, above all, be respectful of my elders, none of which I am nor could ever do. I had to be a "pachuco" or else I would be a "gringo", I had to be Chicano activist, but not a Marxist, ad nauseum."
Reply:
There are so many aspects of cultural heritage. I am not very familiar with Mexican culture, but I can give examples from India.
Here people celebrate harvest festival by different names in different regions (it is such a big country, you know!)
In my region in Southern India, it is called "Sankranthi", literally translated from Sanskrit means, "the advent of change or revolution." It is connected with a lot of cultural events in which people celebrate it as a social event. It is in fact related to the Sun crossing the equinox. It is not without reason that my father-in-law, an old time communist had named his daughter, now my wife as "Kranthi", which means Change/ revolution. Many attempts are made by communists to use the social events to educate the people, by staging street plays and such other cultural events that have their origins in local culture, which were received very enthusiastically by the masses.
It is not wise to discard everything that comes the cultural heritage. We should be a part of it, but at the same time, educate the masses, to raise their consciousness. For example, during the harvest festivities, the cultural events staged by CP activists talk about the hard life of peasants and why they remain poor, while the landlord takes away a major share of the crop.
As regards traits such as respect for elders, I do not ascribe any feudal character to it. It is a healthy tradition, being followed while working in the CP by many of us.
And food is another aspect of cultural heritage. I come from an orthodox Brahmin family and we are expected to be pure vegetarians. Many comrades with similar background as mine relish meat, but I remained a vegetarian. I found that meat doesn't suit my system. So I am content to be a vegetarian, out of choice and not out of religious compulsion. But I had happily discarded many Brahmin symbols such as a sacred thread around my arms and a shaven head with a tuft. I never visit a Hindu temple nor offer prayers. But the resilience of Hindu society is such that many of my relatives, who remained devout Brahmins, accept me normally, as I am. No objections there. May be Hinduism is more tolerant of diversity for historical reasons. But then, it is a different subject.
Vijaya Kumar Marla


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