Pluralism: The Power of Expression by Heer Cheema
The first major event I remember was when as a child I introduced myself in our communal playground as three-fourths Muslim, and one-quarter Hindu and Christian.
On my part no mischief was meant, it was simply a statement of fact as my maternal great grandfather was a Punjabi Hindu, my maternal great grandmother was a Punjabi Christian and my paternal great grandparents were Punjabi Muslims. The notion seemed absurd to my playmates, as they thought of Lahore, my city, as Muslim, Pakistani and Punjabi and in that order.
Their apparent confusion deepened when they heard my mother speak Pastho (the language of the Pakhtuns of the north-west region) and my grandmother voice her concerns in fluent Punjabi (the mother tongue of the people from the central plains).
This experience reflects the conflicting heritages that define our community. On one hand, is the heritage that seeks to build a community by celebrating diversity and embracing pluralism. On the other hand, is the heritage that highlights differences and hardens boundaries between religions, sects and ethnicities.
As I read History I realized that this amazing diversity was not only peculiar to my family, but deeply rooted in the province of Punjab where I live…
Come back next week for Part 2 of Heer’s article! Be sure to visit the Global Beat group on KidSpirit’s homepage for even more responses written by kids around the world.