Saturday, December 11, 2004


India has over 26 million Christian population and one can witness carolling processions on streets in the large cities. Special bargains and discounts are available on the occasion of Christmas. They attend church service and then gather for a Christmas dinner. In some areas, there are lights decorating the outside of the house and yards, while in other areas, only insides are decorated. The regional influences can be seen in South India, where small clay oil-burning lamps are used as Christmas decorations and are placed on roofs and top of the walls like the Hindu festival, Diwali. In Northwest India, the tribal converts sing their special carols the whole night through and tell the story of Christmas to everybody. Mumbai has one of the largest Roman Catholic communities in India and people create beautiful cribs, Stars are the main part of Christmas decorations, often in the shape of stars, Christmas trees etc. Preparation of varieties of seasonal sweets has great importance and a must offer to visitors on and after Christmas Day.


Christmas teaches us to care about our loved ones, our friends and relatives, our enemies and foes, strangers, poor and downtrodden alike. It binds us in one spirit of hope, love and faith. Giving and receiving gifts is not about money but about the thoughts that you gave in to select the gift. The tradition can be traced back to the birth of Christ. According to the legend, the three wise men or magi from the East brought expensive and precious gifts for the baby Jesus and get his blessings as the newborn king. It is said that one of them brought gold as the symbol of royal splendour to crown the baby as King of the kings. Another brought frankincense with him, which could only be offered to the brazen alter in front of the Holy of Holies and on the Day of Atonement and was thus a special gift too. The last of them brought myrrh, the burial ointment with cleansing qualities to represent the purpose of Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all the sinners of the world.

There were shepherds and people from all walks of life who brought anything that they could afford as a gift and the child blessed him, not according to the cost of the gift but by the depth of love and devotion behind the gift. Today, people share their happiness and merriment with each other on Christmas as they wrap the gifts with flashy and decorated coloured papers and send it to them with the good wishes. The gifts may vary according to the age, choice and status of the person in life but it is the thought that counts. Besides, nothing equals the excitement of opening up the gifts at the midnight hour as people pick up their gifts from the bottom of the tree and eagerly see what is their in store for them.

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