Learn to understand our diversity

I ENJOY reading Prof Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi’s articles and his views. His recent article, “Telling tales to rebuild Malaysia” (The Star, Oct 26; online at https://bit.ly/3BgmClA), took me back to the good old days when my Chinese and Malay classmates knew about the different festivals in this country, and that people like me, a Tamil Christian, celebrate Christmas and not Deepavali.

These days, most people just assume that all Indians celebrate Deepavali, and Deepavali is the Indian New Year. Yesterday, a new friend suggested that we meet after Deepavali so that my preparations to celebrate this festival would not be disrupted. When I told her that I celebrate Christmas and not Deepavali, she defended her ignorance by saying she celebrates Chinese New Year.

When people wish me “Happy Deepavali”, I normally respond sarcastically these days. Yes, we do join friends of other races in celebrating their festivities, religious or cultural, in the muhibbah and one Malaysia spirit.

However, we tend to lack knowledge, understanding or information about the significance of these occasions to the people who celebrate them, and this leads us to assume that the members of one race all celebrate the same festival.

If we are negligent in our knowledge of other races, is it not time to teach multiculturalism as a compulsory subject in schools?

I took a course on multiculturalism recently and learnt a lot that would enable me to embrace diversity and not just tolerate it. Let us not just enjoy eating the food of different races in our country, like mutton varuval, beef rendang, chapati and wanton noodles; let’s embrace our nation’s different cultural practices and customs as well.

JANE LAZAR , Ara Damansara, Selangor

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