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Around the world: Bada Din – Christmas in India…

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on December 22, 2008

Heart-Best-Wishes-for-Christmas-Logo-2008-1Despite 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.

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: | Around the WorldChristmas in India)

Some more links about “Christmas in India“…

One Response to “Around the world: Bada Din – Christmas in India…”

  1. 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. Generally preparations of turkey, fish, chicken, salads and other varieties are prepared. It also includes Christmas cake and desserts in the form of Christmas puddings.


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