Tuesday, December 21, 2010
INDIAN CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS!
Christmas is a festival of family traditions, celebrations, greetings and gifts, as it is world wide. This is very much in tune with the sentiments of the Indian people, who love traditions and celebrations. An occasion to get together, pray, feast, and enjoy each other's company, exchange notes with relatives and friends, and be blessed by the elders-these are all a part of any Indian's festival, whether urban or rural, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist or Christian. Moreover, Indians have an affinity for Mother Mary and the infant Jesus, and they love to celebrate Jesus' birthday with the same fervor as they celebrate Lord Krishna's birthday on Janmashtami. In most of the major cities in India, there is no disparity between a Christian and a non-Christian during Christmas. Anyone and everyone will attend midnight mass in the local church. They go to the House of God to pray and for blessings, which probably has more to do with spirituality than religion.
The churches all over India are decorated vibrantly with poinsettias and other local flowers; and the church interiors come alive with candle light. The atmosphere becomes magical and mystical, just the right tone for Christmas. The congregation listens to the service and the songs in silence. After the mass (which is often conducted in both the local language and English) is over, they line up in all somberness for the host from the mass priest. Of course, the non-Christians are aware of their limitations in this procedure and respect the rule.
Some parts of India have a concentration of Christian populations, like in Goe (Western India), in the Norhteastern states of Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Naglaland and some parts of Assam (Shillong). Then there are orthodox Christians in the state of Keralain South India, who celebrate Christmas in a strictly religious manner. The Christians in all these various states have imbibed local Indian customs and traditions into their celebrations, which is evident in the food, drink and merriment. Despite the different states, languages and customs, the true spirit of Christmas-which is a celebration of humanity, charity, and purity-is the common bond between them all.
In rural South India, the people light little clay lamps inside and outside their houses, celebrating the advent of the Holy Child. Since fir trees are a scarcity, they decorate mango and banana trees, which look exactly like true Christmas trees! Friends and families get together after church and enjoy a hearty Christmas dinner, comprising of the local specialties.