E.C. Samkutty Commentary
How Some Keralites in America Waste Their Money and Resources.
(1) They buy items motivated by a competitive spirit.
Some medical doctor in their community or church who passed college with an "A-plus" grade level, who also makes 300,000 dollars a year bought a LEXUS or BENZ car and an expensive new house in a rich neighborhood.
The following month, another Malayalee, college-dropout with an "F plus" grade goes out and buys the same kind of car and the same kind of house in the same elite neighborhood with electronically controlled security fences.
The college dropout works daytime and also in the evening hours in the "graveyard shift" struggling to make the monthly payments. He drives his car majestically Sunday morning to church with his family imagining himself that he is as rich as the medical doctor or the rich business executive next-door.
Every Sunday, mid-way through the service he dozes off during the worship because he works every Saturday night up to 2:00 am late midnight. One Sunday, he fell asleep on his folding chair, fell down, hit the floor, and left the church early with a bump on his forehead and blood on his expensive Nehru coat.
He has many relatives and neighbors in Kerala who are unemployed struggling to feed their children.
(2) One Keralite decided to make a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land---Jerusalem--- with his two children and wife. For the family of four, he spent $12,000, while some of his own nephews in Kerala have not paid their monthly academic fees and his own nieces go to college wearing worn out clothes.
(3) One Keralite nurse in America decides to make her children's weddings special by inviting their children's first pastor in Kerala to conduct and bless the wedding. She buys his air ticket for $2000 dollars. The former pastor conducts the wedding on a Saturday morning, collects 1,000 dollars honorarium, and returns to Kerala Monday morning.
Three thousand hard-earned dollars wasted for just an emotional fulfillment.
The same nurse’s nephews and nieces’ in Kerala are struggling to pay bus tickets to college and do not have a decent desk in their home to place their books and study.
(3)One Malayalee decided to celebrate his 60th birthday in a grand way. He invited a total of 200 guests.
Six relatives came from out of town in airplanes.
The food was arranged in an expensive restaurant---30 dollars per plate---total 6,000 dollars for food.
His relatives who live out of town paid a total of 3,000 dollars for air tickets. Some cousins in America spend several hundred dollars worth of gasoline and hotel rent to attend this event.
Total nine thousand dollars spent to celebrate the birthday of a spendthrift and idiot, while his own local church in India is worshipping in a church with no money to repair its leaking roof.
(4) Some Keralites arrange elaborate Baby Dedication Functions. I have been attending American churches for the last 47 years. There were (and there are) no Keralite Pentecostal churches in the local cities where I lived in the past and presently reside.
American parents conduct their Baby Dedications in a simple way. Only parents and grandparents and a few local relatives attend the function. Friends are not usually invited.
What happens in an American Baby Dedication function? A simple prayer by the pastor, the formal giving of names(Christening), reading of a few verses from the Bible, and a one-minute spiritual exhortation to parents---that is all.
It never takes more than three minutes.
What about Kerala parents? They attempt to show off their wealth and prestige. Some invite all Malayalees in the local area. Youths spend the weekend decorating the home and the church.
Out of town relatives and friends are also invited. Grandparents spend several hundred dollars flying from far away cities. After the dedication, all church members dine in an expensive restaurant.
One time, I was invited to give a Baby Dedication sermon. My ticket was paid for by the parents, and I was given an honorarium for two hundred dollars. The local pastor also gets a cheque for officially performing the function. Several hundred dollars spent on a function that should not cost a penny.
The whole thing is a waste, obviously displeasing to God. I have not been accepting any invitation for Baby Dedications for the last 20 years. There is no need for a formal sermon on such an occasion. Nobody from out of town needs to be invited. Even grandparents do not need to attend if they live far.
I remember how babies were dedicated in our local church in Kerala. The pastor takes the baby in his holy hands, offers a short prayer, reads one or two bible verses. blesses the baby, then gives the baby back to the parents. No sermon on the topic. No dinner afterward. No gift giving. No relatives from outside except those relatives who attend the same local church.
But what about Keralites who work abroad? They have plenty of money. This is a prestige issue for them. They want to impress the local church arraying all their rich relatives from out of town. They want to make this function more glamorous than everybody else's Baby Dedication. Every family competes against every other family in the local city for an ego-trip.
When this carnival happens abroad, some of their own neighbors in Kerala are struggling financially. Some teenagers cannot attend colleges because there is no money for their academic fees and daily bus ride. Their nephews are poor in math but do not have the money to hire a special math tutor.
In spite of all the large income earned by American Keralites, many are still greedy. They cannot resist the temptation to desire for all the gifts that will arrive on a Baby Dedication day. Two hundred guests mean two hundred pieces of gifts.
I feel that plain begging is better than collecting gifts for a baby produced by the combined efforts of a dad and mom. Why should somebody else give a gift for a baby that you produced? Nobody has any responsibility to make your baby’s dedication day a grand success and make you happy.
Some people arrange baby dedications because they have given gifts for the dedication of other children. They want to regain that money. The best way to regain is to have your own celebration days.
What a shame!
What a waste!
Every year during the week of FATHERS DAY, Ranjith mails fifty dollars to me for my wife and daughter to eat in a good restaurant. He also encloses a beautiful Father's Day Card. The minimum price for such a card is four dollars.
Last year, I told him not to send me money, not to buy a card, but just send me a free email message wishing me God's blessings.
So this year(2017), my son just sent me a best wishes message. He saved 54 dollars.
I told him that when I see four dollars wasted to wish me a happy Father's Day in a formal card, I only feel sad. I do not enjoy seeing anyone waste money.
I have a jar in which I deposit cash whenever I save money from an unnecessary matter. I put it together and send it to some poor people in India.
I have been sending money to feed thirty poor people in India----one meal per week. I am able to do it because I try my best not to waste money to please or impress people.
My wife agrees with me on most of my philosophy of frugal lifestyle, but she disagrees with me on the Father's Day and Mother's Day celebrations. She happily accepts the card and the money from our two children for MOTHER’S DAY. Of course, my wife gets 100 dollars from each while I get only fifty dollars.
A true believer in God must feel guilty when he /she spends money unwisely. It is a sin to waste our resources.
I personally knew and used to corresponded with Mahatma Gandhi's grandson Mr. Arun Gandhi. Arun told me that M. K. Gandhi rebuked, punished, and disciplined him when he threw away a small used pencil (only 2 inches long) in his elementary school days.
Several years ago, Arun Gandhi came to speak at a special meeting at the Louisiana State University. I had the privilege to talk to him personally and discuss a few items connected with social issues. I write a full-length article about him in Malayala Manorama daily titled “a Gandhi in America.” One of the basic principles for which Gandhi worked was the philosophy of frugality in everyday life.
I will continue to add ideas to strengthen my theme in this article. Your comments are appreciated.
E.C. Samkutty, USA (April 3, 2017)
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Abraham Varghese Br Samkutty, I read your post and find that it is the need of the hour.Let them persuade the readers to come to light from sheer darkness. God Bless you.
Like · Reply · Yesterday at 6:59am
John Thekkattil Abraham
John Thekkattil Abraham I don't worry.
Like · Reply · 12 hrs
Kamalasanan PN Ur article is indeed an eye-opener
Like · Reply · 8 hrs
EC Samkutty Dear Kamalasanan,
Good to see your note. I will call you next week.
Like · Reply · 8 hrs