Thanksgiving 2018: Why it's not for Indians
Thanksgiving to an American TV series is what Karva Chauth is to an Indian serial — a mechanism to churn out more episodes, more drama.
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American television series taught us Indians plenty of things. Apart from the un-beeped cuss words, which we were not supposed to learn at that tender age, we learnt about the National Football League (while we know almost nothing about Indian football), Superbowl — and Thanksgiving!
We were told that it is a time between Halloween and Christmas, when Americans get together with friends and families in celebration, gratitude and thanksgiving, signifying the harvest festival.
How we came to know of Thanksgiving.
This is a must-have in any American series as it can easily span over a few episodes, and can be repeated year after year — like how Rakhi/Holi/Diwali/Karwa Chauth is to Indian television — our favourite characters messing up with the turkey stuffing of bread crumbs, chopped celery, carrots, onions, chestnuts, bacon or sausage, raisins or apples, etc., or reminiscing their childhood memories of Thanksgiving over fine food and wine.
For many of us, our first tryst with the idea of a whole turkey happened just like that, before we started seeing photographs of US presidents 'forgiving' a chosen turkey ahead of the festivities every year.
Presidential 'pardons' through the ages. (Photo: Reuters)
There are many stories and myths surrounding this: The first Thanksgiving was apparently in 1621, when colonists in Plymouth, Massachusetts, shared a meal with the Wampanoag Indians, who were native to the land. In 1863, then-President Abraham Lincoln declared a national Thanksgiving Day. Many people do not see this as a celebration, however, as the event marks the advent of colonials.
All this information came after we looked up Thanksgiving, the history of it, long after ruminating over why we don't have any Thanksgiving Day in India.
Not for the faint-hearted!
Here are some 'fictitious' reasons:
We have too many names for the same thing
We will never be able to zero in on a date/day to celebrate the harvest festival. We have Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Bihu, Pongal — all different names in different regions — to celebrate the abundance of harvest. If we have to choose one date to do that, there will be bloodshed on Twitter.
Thank you? We don't do it here
As author Deepak Singh had pointed out in his article, I’ve never thanked my parents for anything, in The Atlantic, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ comes very naturally to Americans. Many Indians may differ, but we don’t really thank our auto drivers, bus drivers (maybe we have started thanking our Uber drivers!). We write a lot of ‘thanks and regards’ in our office emails, but when it comes to personal relationships, a ‘thank you’ may introduce an unwanted element of distance.
Not for Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday Veg people
We are a nation full of ‘today veg’, ‘tomorrow non-veg’, or ‘veg-in-home’, ‘non-veg-outside’ people. So, the turkey is not for the faint-hearted or us!
Who eats pumpkin, broccoli, lettuce?
Vegetarian Thanksgiving would have been an abhorred idea, like that of veg biriyani. Also, who eats pumpkin, broccoli, lettuce? That too, on a national holiday? Indians won’t. Ever.
We don't sit together for food
The idea is to sit together with friends and family members and express gratitude. If we sit together, then who will serve the food? Who will ask if we need something else?
Thank you, Thanksgiving, for existing only on television! And, only in America.