Saturday, 17 April 2010

Happy Easter, heathen.

It's turned into a kind of Easter tradition now. We pack our things, kids and all, and drive down to this quaint apartment in the town of Lindau with our favorite friends. The good thing about Easter as opposed to Christmas is, that there's less hype, less pressure attached to it. A more 'humble' festival, if you may. Much less is expected of Easter, and it seems to be quite content in being merely second most favorite holiday. Quite like the quiet resignation of the middle child. You are special, just not the most special. Unwittingly however, we for one, do seem to have a much more relaxingly happy time with each other, than we do on any other holiday. This may have a lot to do with our expectations not being set to the moon. (Why not make a note of this wisdom?)

Anyway, the tradition does go further and the kinky part about it, actually started quite by chance. I was brought up to be a god fearing Catholic. In India, belonging to a religion is like being one or the other sex, you must belong to one and you must know which one it is. Then you practice it with fervor, so as not to be left out. Being in Europe for so long has dulled that Indian effect some, but by no means diminished it. I am a god fearing something now, for want of a better option, that something is a half-baked Catholic.
So, come Christian festival, I seek the contact to the church and mass. Our first Easter in Lindau, no one took me seriously. I was in the company of 3 (+2) other Germans. They were confused, if anything, by the mention of mass at Easter. I earned their worried looks, like I would need help if I continued to show these symptoms. So I gathered that I'd have to figure out the organisational details on my own, and yet never got around to doing it! On Easter morning, I wake up with a start, realizing I still hadn't figured out my Easter service and for all I know, it might be being performed while I'm busy startling here. So I jump out of bed in a rush, pat my hair down, throw on a spaghetti-strapped summer dress (they're the quickest to put on when in a hurry!), forget to change my flip-flops, jump into the car, forget my coat (it was 4°C that morning), stop at the first steeple, charge out, get hold of the first nice old lady with church bag in hand and interrogate her, between chattering teeth, about the service timings. I realize only then, by the look on her face what a sight I must have been. The perfect deranged destitute, an Indian one at that, looking for a church! My purpose was served nevertheless. I had about a half hour to wake, dress and motivate my 3 year old twins and self to Easter service. Which I do, also managing to quickly prepare my Easter basket with my decapitated Easter lamb cake (traditions, traditions!), an assortment of the Easter eggs that we had coloured the previous night, to get blessed by the priest atEaster mass. The proper Catholic way.
We get there just in time, and stroll in with ease, feigning a no-sweat-getting-here-on-time stance. We walk down the center isle. I notice the old lady from before in one the pews and smile gushingly. I seat my kids in the pew ahead of her, staying close to a familiar face, while I proudly continue to the altar with my Easter basket in hand. Wait a minute, there are no other baskets at the altar, is everyone with a basket late for mass? I place my lone basket insistingly, confidently at the altar and return to the kids.
Yes, something seemed very wrong, because something was. It was an Evangelical church, an Evangelical community and of course an Evangelical service. They don't have the heathen Easter basket tradition. After the service when the priest wished me and my children on the way out, he looked sympathetically, deep into my eyes, clutching my hand and basket handle tight between both of his, and said to me 'I wish you all the best, the very best'.

The experience was so special and unique that every Easter, I go back there. To that very same church and attend the very same service. Never forgetting my Easter basket, the only one at the altar always. It will never get blessed.

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