The thanksgiving ad in the Thursday newspaper left me wondering if Gods really read newspapers! How sure are we that they read only English dailies? And being the supernatural omnipresent power that he is what if he was updated with the latest technologies and read by just swiping and scrolling the clouds aside, what if he also superseded the print media and updated himself with Facebook or Twitter?
All these questions amused me about the immense faith people still repose in expressing gratitude so superficially that too at an advertising expense of Rs.1600 per box and how relevant is this Thanks Giving in the Indian context?
So here is a brief about how the whole idea of thanksgiving started.
In September 1620 the Pilgrims(religious reformists of the Church) from Europe set sail across the Atlantic ocean and reached the rocky shores of the new world that was inhabited by the native American tribes called Wampanoags.
The Pilgrims were welcomed by the local red Indians with open arms and shared their food supply with the Pilgrims as it was their custom to help the visitors and be courteous to them. (They were called Indians because the initial voyagers of Europe had assumed this new land to be India)
The wheat that the Pilgrims had got did not grow on the rocky soil and they survived only by the kindness and accommodative nature of the local tribals _ the Wampa no ags.
In 1621 the Pilgrims met a tribal called Samoset who could speak English and were thrilled when he entered their Plymouth colony and said ‘welcome’ in English!
Soon Samoset got another tribal named Squanto who could speak better English and he was regarded as an instrument sent by god by the Pilgrims.
Squanto taught them the many ways of survival in the new world as these European Pilgrims mostly lived in dirt, short supply of food and medicines, and did not know how to survive the cold winters. Squanto brought them dear meat, beaver skin, taught them how to cultivate corn and other vegetables and build new homes like the red Indians.
He explained how to dig and cook clam, showed them medicinal plants and pointed out poisonous plants to stay away from, he told them how to use sap from maple trees and how to use fish for fertilizer and dozens of other skills that improved the lifestyle of the Pilgrims.
In order to celebrate this good fortune the pilgrims initially invited Samoset, Squanto and a few other Wampanoag leaders and their families for a thanksgiving feast but when the tribals arrived in overwhelming numbers the pilgrims were unable to feed them, to which the tribals themselves arranged for all the food once again!
Soon as the number of European Pilgrims increased, they began to disrespect the local faith and became intolerant which led to a deterioration of their relationships. Any Indian who came near their vicinity was looted, enslaved or murdered. Soon enough they constructed cannons and prepared for the military destruction of the locals, they even beheaded some Wampanoags and displayed their heads on wooden spikes in their colonies. By mid 1630s a new group of 700 more Europeans who called themselves Puritans arrived in the new world and settled in Boston, by now the attacks on the Native American Indians had increased considerably.
Perhaps the Pilgrims regarded their voyage quests of expansion and invasion as a pilgrimage and the Puritans’ regarded their baptizing efforts of cleansing(ousting) the native faith and ethnicity as purification.
Squanto was taken as a prisoner and then taken as a slave to Spain after baptizing him into a Catholic!
In 1637, some 700 Pequot Indian tribes were trapped and killed by the whites after which the governor of Massachusetts Bay colony whitewashed their gory crime by declaring “a day of thanksgiving’ for those 700 innocent unarmed civilian lives.
By 1675, the Massachusetts Englishmen were in a full- fledged war with the Wampanoags who were now reduced from some 24000 to just 750 in number after many a genocides, Their lifestyle and culture was steadily eroding after various European imposed laws and values.
In 1676 the Wampanoags leader Metacomet was killed and his severed body parts were displayed in different parts of the town. His head was struck on a pole in Plymouth on the real first ‘day of public thanksgiving for the beginning of revenge upon the enemy’. Wait! What did you think, the whites were thanking the native tribesmen all along? They were thanking their lords for having been able to live so resplendently by oppressing a whole civilization!
Thus after a brutal holocaust of hunting down the friendly redskins and then declaring a thanksgiving day as an honorary day to celebrate not the brotherhood of man but the deceitful defeat of natives was introduced.
With more and more frenzied killing of the natives who were either enslaved or exterminated, the thanksgiving became synonymous with a feast after each massacre.
The brutal history of ‘thanksgiving’ and all that killing of the natives 350years ago, is today sweet coated with testimonies of veneration and words of nationalistic fervour extending gratitude to the lord for the bounties and blessings for all their unkindness.
Yes, today, America is an evolved nation with very many races, however their(read white invading Europeans) flagship methods of seeking, securing and finally seizing power after a sumptuous loot is still the same where ethnic cleansing is carried out under different pretexts but it is really outright hilarious and interesting to note that we in India, blindly follow this Western practice which in no way has any relevance in the Indian scenario. Whatever ‘Thanksgiving’ meant but thanks to the indomitable spirits of secularism we are steeped in, one can never fathom the idea of questioning the farce of any faith whatsoever! Isn’t it?
References from Dr.Habib Siddiqui’s material on Islamicity website