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Christmas in India

Monday 21 December 2015

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Merry Christmas in India !
Photo S. Ramesh Kurup
Friends have asked me if Christmas is celebrated in India. Christians make up 2.3% of the population. So that means 24 million people in India are celebrating Christmas today, which is a national holiday. You can tell who is celebrating Christmas by the big, colourful star lanterns made out of paper which are hung outside Christian homes and shops. At night these are lit, adding colours and lights to the neighbourhood.

Despite the same underlying spirit, the celebration of Christmas vary in the vast expanse of India. These variations are largely because India is a country of diversity. Christian community in India celebrate Christmas with pomp, gaiety and devotion.

Celebrations of Christmas festival begin on the eve of Christmas on 24th of December and continue till New Year’s Day. Christians across the country mark the birth of Lord Jesus Christ on Christmas Day by participating in special masses organized in churches. Celebrations of Christmas are marked by carols, cakes, candles and decoration of Christmas Tree. Each area of India has a distinctly different way of celebrating Christmas.

If in the North East it is celebrated in one way, in the South West it is done in a different way. In northwest India, the tribal Christians of the Bhil tribe go out night after night for a week during Christmas to sing their special carols the whole night through and tell the story of Christmas to everybody.

In South India, Christians light clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses, the same way as Hindus decorate their homes during the Diwali Festival. People also prepare mouthwatering recipes, such as cakes, cookies, pudding etc. Christians in the plains decorate mango or banana trees at Christmas time. Sometimes they also decorate their houses with mango leaves.

In several states of India a popular custom is to decorate banana or mango tree instead of traditional pine tree. In some parts of India, small clay oil-burning lamps are used as Christmas decorations; they are placed on the edges of flat roofs and on the tops of walls. Another interesting Christmas tradition in India is decorating the Churches with poinsettia flower.

Churches are decorated with poinsettias and lit with candles for the Christmas Eve service. However, for the urban regions the ingredients of the festivities are the familiar X-mas trees (mostly potted) decorated with stars and tinsels, toys, plastic fruits, and colorful streamers and illuminated well are placed in front of the Christian houses, shops and restaurants. Santa is also seen in some streets and some shops and departmental stores deploy Santa to entertain
their kid-customers. In the major cities of India caroling processions are also seen on streets and thoroughfares.

Days before the festival markets take a colorful look as they are decorated with traditional Christmas trees, stars, images of Santa, balloons and festoons. In several parts of India, especially in metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai, Christmas Festival has assumed secular overtones and is joyfully celebrated by people of all religions and communities. In Mumbai, which has one of the largest Roman Catholic communities in India, there is a tradition to depict nativity scenes and decorate home with big stars. Christmas Day called ’Bada Din’ (Big Day) in Hindi is a national holiday in India and people from all religions join their Christian friends to make the most of the joyous celebrations.

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Christmas 2007 in India
I do wonder how Christmas is celebrated in India. I remember I had asked one of the supervisors during my first IE job if we had a holiday on Dec. 25 for Christmas. He said no - of course I could take the day off but then I wouldn’t get paid for that day. I can’t really say I’ve had too many Christian friends or friends who celebrate Christmas. Natasha and I never really talked about how she and her family celebrated the day.
Posted by criticalcorner

Though the Hindus and Muslims comprise majority of the population, Xmas is celebrated with much fanfare in this secular country. Schools run by Christian missionaries celebrate Christmas by organizing nativity plays which depict the birth of Jesus Christ. Carols, songs and dramas make these celebrations even more joyful. Even non-Christian students enthusiastically participate in such celebrations.

In Christian households, preparations for Christmas begin at least a month in advance. People get their homes whitewashed and indulge in spring cleaning of the house to give it a fresh new look. Ladies start preparations for the traditional Christmas cake which is anxiously awaited not just by the entire family but also by the neighbors!! Hectic shopping activity takes place as everyone buys new clothes for the festival. Christmas Gifts are also bought for friends, relatives and kids in the family. The biggest festival for Christians, Christmas is also the time for family reunions. People staying in different cities for job or higher studies rush back to their homes to celebrate Christmas with their near and dear ones. Indian Christians do not believe in short services. The main service on Christmas Day is a midnight one which lasts from two to three hours, with hundred of communicants and many children all massed together on the floor. The Day is a national holiday and people irrespective of their religion enjoy it along with the Christians.

Most exhilarating celebration of Christmas can be seen in the vivacious state of Goa. A large number of domestic and international tourists flock to the beaches Goa during Christmas festival to watch Goa at its cultural best. One can also regale in the best of Goa music and dance during Christmas festivities. Catholics in Goa participate in the traditional midnight mass services locally called Missa de Galo or Cock Crow as they go on well into early hours of the morning. The Carnival, preceding Lent, is the most important event at Goa. This is similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Goa is one favorite destination for Christmas celebrations. In fact a very large number of people from the country as well as abroad make a beeline to this little coastal state to celebrate their Christmas holidays in style.

- Source : www.theholidayspot.com

Christmas in India is celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm and joy! Though Christmas is not a major Indian festival as Christians are in minority in India nevertheless, it has become an important festival over the years. Today people from other religions and communities participate in the Christmas festivities with marked fervor and zest.

Christmas Celebrations in India
Days before Christmas market places, shop, streets and churches are decorated with scenes of nativity, lights and stars. People prepare variety of sweets and cakes before the Christmas day. These are offered to visitors and neighbors. Especially, non-Christian neighbors wait excitedly for the Christmas cakes. Exchanging gifts and cards is an important part of Christmas festival. Children in particular, enjoy the festival the most as they get to participate in the native plays and Christmas carnivals conducted by schools or socio-cultural clubs. Kids also receive gifts from their favorite Santa Claus.

Christians in India attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and light votive candles in the church. The ritual is followed by Christmas carols, balls on the Christmas day and tempting Christmas meals.

Christmas Decorations in India
One of the unique features of Christmas in India is the use of banana or mango tree for decoration instead of traditional pine tree. This is the time for people to flaunt their creativity. They decorate these trees with colorful ribbons, blinking lights, stars and sparkled balls and use poinsettia flower to decorate churches. In South India, people put oil-lamps of clay on their flat roof-tops to let everyone feel the presence of God in light.

Christmas in Goa
Christmas is celebrated with great zeal in Goa - the state rich for its culture and spirited people. Interestingly, not only the natives enjoy the festive mood of Christmas but the tourists also participate in each and every Christmas custom. Christmas carnival in Goa lasts from Christmas eve till New Year which makes the environment more fun ’n’ frolic. During this period, Goans along with the visiting tourists immerse themselves in music, dance and the Yuletide spirit. All roads and especially the mesmerizing beaches of Goa are thronged by people enjoying every moment of the festival with drinks, music and lavish food.

- Source : christmas-gifts.indiangiftsportal.com

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