Christmas is a gazetted holiday of India and people celebrate it with great prosperity and enthusiasm.
Christmas is celebrated all around the world on 25th December every year, the day marks the birth of Jesus Christ, the son of god, and the second of Holy Trinity of Christianity. Billions of people all around the world celebrate Christmas with full devotion and excitement. Indians too celebrate Christmas with the same enthusiasm.
How Do People Celebrate Christmas in India
India is considered one of the most diverse nations in the world. People in India celebrate every festival with full enthusiasm and joy. India is home to more than 28 million Christians; therefore, Christmas is a big holiday in India. It is not only Christians but people from all religions who celebrate Christmas with the same excitement and joy.
Preparations for Christmas usually begins weeks before the festival. Markets are decked up for the occasion as every gift shop offer Christmas trees, goodies, ornaments and other items for decoration. Christians decorate their houses with lights and a Christmas tree. On the night of 24th December, Christian families visit their nearest church to attend the midnight mass. On this night, churches are decorated with poinsettia flowers and candles.
There are several nativities staged in many schools and churches all around India. The performances by young children depict the birth, life, and actions of Jesus Christ and usually end with the singing of hymns and carols and the visit of a person dressed as Santa to distribute candies and toffees to the kids.
In the metros a smiling Santa Claus, entertaining children at departmental stores with toys and gifts is not an uncommon sight. Caroling processions on streets and thoroughfares can also be seen on the 24th night.
A sizeable population of the Christian Community reside in Mumbai of the Indian state of Maharashtra and are mainly Roman Catholics. It is a delight to watch their homes during Christmas. Every Christian home creates a nativity scene, often display a manger in the front window. Giant star-shaped paper lanterns are hung between the houses so that the stars float above you as you walk down the road. There is a provision of sweets, mainly home-made, in every household to welcome visitors during the occasion.
In Southern states, Christians often light small clay oil lamps and place these on the flat roofs of their homes to show that Jesus is the light of the world. In the North-western states of India, the tribal Christians of the Bhil folk take out caroling processions during the whole Christmas week and often visit neighboring villages to tell the Christmas story to people through songs.
In India, Father Christmas or Santa Claus is held to be the giver of presents to children from a horse and cart.
Advice from Locals for Visiting India at Christmas
There are many places you can visit at the time of Christmas in India. All government offices and schools are closed on this day. Out of all the states, Goa is a state which comes first in mind to celebrate Christmas. Goa is the smallest state of India and has a lot of western customs as part of their celebrations. Most Christians in Goa are Catholics. People like to go carol singing around their neighbors for about a week before Christmas. Christmas Trees are also very popular as is a 'traditional' rich fruit Christmas Cake! Lots of local sweets are also eaten at Christmas in Goa.
On Christmas Eve, Christians in Goa hang out giant paper lanterns, in the shape of stars, between the houses so that the stars float above you as you walk down the road. The main Christmas meal is also eaten on Christmas Eve and is also 'western' with roast turkey or chicken being popular. After the meal, Christians head to Church for a Midnight mass service. After the service, the church bells ring to announce that Christmas Day has arrived. Many Christians in Goa also celebrate Epiphany and remember the Wise Men visiting Jesus.
Some of the other places to experience Christmas in India are Mumbai, Kerala, Northwest and eastern states. People decorate their houses, visit churches, exchange gifts, offer prayers, distribute famous Christmas cakes.
My Christmas Story
Christmas is one of my most awaited holidays in the whole year. One of the major reasons is that one of my best friends is christian. Every year, on the day of Christmas me and my friend go to church early in the morning. It is always a pleasure to see the Church beautifully decorated with lights and a huge christmas tree. There is also a famous music band that plays christmas songs which is always a delight to listen. We do our morning prayers together and light a candle. There is a huge stage set up near the church where thousands of devotees pray and listen to stories.
The most amazing part is to have famous christmas cake from the church. It is the most delicious cake I ever eat in a whole year. The most interesting part is the stalls right outside the church offer traditional indian snacks like Samosa.
The culture, christmas hat, candles, lights, morning prayers is one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed in my life.
Overall Feeling of Christmas in India
Christmas arrives just a week before the new year, therefore, Christmas is a much-awaited festival in India. Christmas is one of the most important and awaited festivals not only for Christians but for people from other religions as well. Christians make their famous Christmas cake at their home and distribute them to people from all religions. They even organize Christmas parties at their home and invite everyone. Children love this festival as they get gifts like candies and chocolates while walking on the streets.
Christmas sets a huge example for all the religions in India. No matter what religion you belong to, anyone can follow the same rituals as Christians do.
Christmas sends the message of secularism, peace, love, and respect. It shows how united religions in India are and how the whole nation stands together and celebrates festivals of every religion.