India’s uniqueness as a country is that despite its diversity in religion, caste and creed, it still remains united as one country.
The city of Pune reflects this unity as good if not better than any other city in India.
Pune has become more cosmopolitan than ever before with the rapid growth of the industrial and information technology sector. This has brought people from various regions of India to the city.
The best reflection of this unity among diversity is best reflected during the numerous festivals which take place throughout the year. December is the month of festivities with the nip in the air adding to the lovely atmosphere.
Christmas will be with us within a few days and later the New Year will start.
There is a buzz in the air as people get ready to mark both occasions. Shops are already offering discounts and malls are always crowded during the evenings and weekends.
Though India is majority Hindu, all religions are forgotten and everyone becomes one, barring a few fanatics, during festivals.
We spoke to a few Puneites to gauge their mood:
“Puneites take joy in all festivals, whether it is Christmas, Diwali, Eid or any other ones. It is the participation in such events which makes Pune so great,” says Aparna Gunjal, an IT Professional.
“This seems more apparent as the middle class has now become so diverse with many coming to the city to work from other states.
“Those living in the slums and chawls have always indulged in each other’s activities since ages. They live close to each other and humanity is more important to them,” she adds.
Anita Swamy, a Businesswoman who runs a chain of boutiques, says, “I see women coming to my stores to buy a new dress for Christmas. They are across many religions but the purpose seems to be the same.
“There are so many parties around town and people just love the festive atmosphere.
Christmas is a special time and across all religions and the fortnight to the New Year is time for fun and frolic. We have put a Santa in our stores to stress on the festive season and entertain the kids,” Anita added.
“I have been living in the Pune Camp area since my childhood. I think Pune Camp is a shining example in the city and for the whole of the country of how people from all communities celebrate festivals together,” says Nitish Gaikwad, a City-based Lawyer.
“Whether it is Diwali, Christmas or Eid, they are all together, helping each other, dancing with each other and having fun. In fact, one Ganesh Madal in the Camp area has a Muslim president. What better than that.
“All this Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Dalit-Brahmin divide is the work of a few dirty-minded politicians. The common people know no boundaries. We are Indians first and we believe in it,” Gaikwad added.
“During the recent Ganesh festival, I went to the see the beautifully made Ganesh idols and the well-decorated pandals.
It came as no surprise that there Muslims in their traditional dress walking around like all of us,” says Madhuri Korde, a Housewife.
“I felt proud at that moment that I lived in Pune where religion knows no boundaries.
In fact, I am planning to go for the midnight mass with my neighbour to experience that too.”
“I come from Kerala and what I saw in Pune during the festivals is truly amazing,” says Sheeba Mariamkutti, a student.
“Being a Christian never mattered in this city. I was like any other. I am throwing a Christmas party and all my friends are looking forward to it. Pune rocks,” Sheeba says.
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