Christmas in India
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. 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. 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.
Christmas Euphoria in India
Euphoria for Christmas in India is largely based on the American media depiction. 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.
Preparations for Christmas in India
In Christian households, preparations for Christmas begin atleast 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. 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.
Christmas Celebrations in Different Parts of India
Customs for Christmas celebrations vary in the vast expanse of India. These variations are largely because of the local cultural influence. In South India, for instance, Christians light clay lamps on the rooftops and walls of their houses, the same way as Hindus decorate their homes during the Diwali Festival. Besides, in several states of India a popular custom is to decorate banana or mango tree instead of traditional pine tree. In northwest India, the tribal Christians of the Bhil tribe go out night after night for a week during Christmas to sing their equivalent of carols the whole night through. 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 in Goa
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.
Christmas Celebration in Other Countries