Guest Author - Preena Deepak
Christmas is one of the few Festivals with global significance and Indians join the merriment in December in ‘desi’ style. Christmas traditions observed in India are different from those in Western Countries. Here are glimpses on ‘Desi Christmas Traditions’.
It is common practice for Indians celebrating Christmas to set up a Christmas tree at home and decorate it with ornaments and lights. Casuarina trees start flooding the markets and these are used as Christmas trees. Some even make their own Christmas trees. Almost every store/shopping mall puts up decorated trees too as Christmas trees have become tools for boosting up sales during the holiday season.
All Christians in India decorate their halls with wall hangings, balloons, Christmas trees, streamers and cribs. Many of these are made in India though imported decorations are now extensively available in India.
Santa Claus more commonly called Christmas Father in India is a much loved and benevolent figure who seems to cheer and sometimes scare Indian kids. People dressed to depict Santa are on duty in shopping areas, again to woo customers and make stores Christmasy. These Santas also have a load of toffees under their belt for their little admirers.
Cribs depicting the Manger Scene are put up in homes and some stores. It is common practice for Churches to put up huge cribs to help people understand the significance of Christmas.
Most Churches organize Carol Services and Christmas Tree Events to spread the joy of the season with songs, music, fun and games.
Almost all Christian congregations organize parties of Carol singers who visit members’ homes and greet them with songs and prayers. Several groups also visit hospitals, children’s homes, orphanages and home for the aged to sing and cheer them with the message of Christmas.
All Christians put up a star or sometimes several lights and stars outside their homes all through the Christmas Season. Even shops and malls put up colorful lights and stars during this time of the year.
Though Indians do give gifts to one another during Christmas time, there is no surprise Santa visit and gift giving that is expected. The Christmas Tree has ornamental gifts on it but no real ones beneath.
Christmas celebrations in India accompany a full platter of desi sweets and food. Almost all Christians in India bake or buy cakes to celebrate Christmas. Exchanging sweets and food is an important activity on Christmas Day.
Christmas Services are conducted in almost all Churches on the mid night of 24th December. Some Churches have second service in the morning as well.
Over the years desi Christmas traditions have changed and now the trend is to imitate patterns in other countries. Some Indian Christians have even stopped celebrating Christmas. Yet Christmas is a dear Indian Festival and will continue to be a season of joy and giving in India.
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