Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Christmas is about the birth of Jesus Christ. But it is also about cakes, parties, feasts, gifts and for children, Santa Claus. No wonder, many non-Christian families from the city celebrate the festival with gusto. They prepare cakes, throw parties, sing carols and even visit churches at midnight to offer prayers. On Christmas eve, Free Press talked to some of these families. Excerpts
My family and I have been celebrating Christmas for past 30 years. We buy a Christmas tree and decorate it. We make plum, fruit and walnut cakes and share them with our friends and relatives and also with children from deprived families. We also give gifts to our children. We attend the midnight mass and also light candles. Preparations begin 15 days before the festival. I strongly believe that all religions are the same.
-Kahkasha Saxena, tarot card reader
Message is same
When I was in school, a Christian lady happened to be our neighbour. It was by visiting her home that I first learned about Jesus Christ and Christmas and was fascinated. On every Christmas we visited her home and on every Onam, she was our guest. Since then, for the past almost 35 years, we have been celebrating Christmas at our home. We have a Christmas tree, which we decorate and we prepare a rum cake. I also used to join carol groups. I believe that the basic message of all religions is the same. All religions teach us to be truthful, to do our work with dedication and honesty.
-Manoj Pillai, Cath Lab manager, Anant Heart Hospital
Partying with kids
I celebrate Christmas because it is a part of Indian culture. Indian culture is not only about Hinduism. All religions have an equal place in it. My daughter is over one-year-old. And from her childhood, I want her to learn and understand about all religions. I want her to learn the value of caring and sharing. On Christmas, I plan to organise a party for the children of my friends and neighbours. I will have about 15 bubbly guests. We will have a great time. And yes, Santa will also be joining our party.
- Ritu Sharma, revenue inspector, Kolar tehsil
I have been celebrating Christmas for the past 10 years. I celebrate it with children. In fact, I wait for Christmas and New Year more than I wait for Diwali. For me, Christmas is not about a particular religion. It is about enjoyment, about meeting friends. Then there is Santa Claus, who brings surprise gifts for you. However, I find what Jesus Christ did very inspiring.
-Karuna Gawai, social activist
Waiting for Santa
As a child, I used to wait for Santa Claus. He always brought what I wanted. And now the same is happening with my two daughters, aged 6 and 7 respectively. They too convey their wishes to Santa and on Christmas morning, they find their desired gifts placed below the Christmas tree. For the past 10 years, barring the two years of pandemic, I organise Christmas parties in my colony. I also prepare cake at home. I believe that as residents of a secular country, we must tell our children about all religions and teach them to respect the followers of all faiths.
Dilip Pandey, zonal coordinator, UNICEF project, Uday Sanstha
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)