Culture and religion

Just read an article about how (Christmas) festivities are banned in Brunei, where most people are Muslims.

The article said that the ban is not only limited to festivities of the Christian faith, but also those of other religions like Chinese New Year. With specific regard to Christmas, though, a person commented that to use any Christmas symbols/ sing any song is to recognise that the Christian God exists, and that is not acceptable in Islam, where they only recognise one God – Allah – and not many others.

In light of recent events, this sentence made me think of the very fine line between culture and religion. I think in Singapore, festivals such as Christmas and CNY have evolved from religious events to cultural ones, where many from different faiths come together to celebrate these occasions, even though the more religious ones would still go to their respective religious institutions to pray. As time progresses – and as occasions become increasingly commercialised – it is inevitable for religious practices to evolve into cultural ones. Besides, if they were truly religious, I would expect everyone of that respective faith to be able to explain the rationale behind the occasion – something which I am very sure not everyone can do.

Then again, perhaps I’m speaking as someone with limited worldviews and perspectives – I grew up and spent my entire life in Singapore, a multi-racial country where ‘racial harmony’ has basically been imprinted in our minds by the government since we were little kids. This in turn might explain why I don’t see these events as highly religious ones – something which people from less secular/ more religious countries might find appalling.

Oh well, what can I say! I need to explore the world more, but for now, it’s only through the news that I can do so.


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