Continuing our festival posts, today we take a look at what are the various ways of celebrating Christmas in India. Generally the Christians who live in the plains decorate mango or banana trees at Christmas time. Some of them also decorate their houses with mango leaves. However in some of the other parts of India, a lot of people use small clay oil-burning lamps as Christmas decorations. These small clay lamps are placed on the edges of flat roofs and on the tops of walls. During Christmas in India, most of the Churches are decorated with candles for the Christmas Eve service.
One of the most famous states for celebration of Christmas in India is Goa. A former colony of Portugal, Goa is known for its unique culture, which is a perfect blend of Portuguese and Indian style. People here observe all the festivals of all religions equally. Christmas is one such festival, which is celebrated with great zeal in Goa. The Christians and non-Christians in Goa observe this day with great honor towards Christ. The celebrations last for 3 days and tourists also participate.
Although the Hindu and Muslim population are the majority in India, Christmas is celebrated with a large amount of fanfare. Christmas in India is declared as a national holiday and people irrespective of their religion enjoy it along with the Christians. 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. People distribute cakes, light candles, sing carols and decorate the Christmas tree. They decorate houses, erect Christmas trees, make cribs with figures of baby Jesus, and enjoy a sumptuous lunch with cakes and wine and exchange gifts.
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. 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. Most exhilarating celebration of Christmas can be seen in Goa. A large number of domestic and international tourists visit the beaches of Goa during Christmas festival to watch the place at its cultural best. One can also regale in the best of Goa music and dance during Christmas festivities. Goa is one favorite destination for Christmas celebrations.
Days before the festival markets take a colorful look as they are decorated with traditional Christmas trees, stars, images of Santa, balloons and festoons. Gift marketers too create hype for Christmas by launching a rigorous advertising campaign through newspapers, radio and television. 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.
The celebration of Christmas shows that even people from different religion take part in Christmas celebration just as the Indian Christians do. And because of European influence on the country for so long the religion has spread across the country.
Written by Dsharma, Community Manager for India and the USA