Christmas Fervour Picks Up In Vasai

Christmas Fervour Picks Up In Vasai

Vasai is home to two distinct Christian communities - The first group comprises local East Indian Roman Catholics concentrated in the coastal and western strip and the second type consists of those who have migrated to the area in the last six decades, residing in urban conglomerations on both sides of the railway tracks and stations.

Biju CherianUpdated: Wednesday, December 20, 2023, 07:47 PM IST
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It's that time of the year when a section of the residents of Vasai immerse themselves in religious fervor and related activities. The Christmas season is here, bringing with it the joy of singing and socializing. This year, the fervor has reached its peak.

Two distinct Christian communities

Vasai is home to two distinct Christian communities. The first group comprises local East Indian Roman Catholics concentrated in the coastal and western strip. They possess a unique culture passed down through generations over the past five centuries—a blend of Maharashtrian, Portuguese, and modern cosmopolitan ways of life, magnified and reflected in their Christmas celebrations. Christian homes in this area are already adorned, preparations underway for Christmas feasts, and visits to relatives are being planned. Churches are adorned, hosting Christmas-related worship services, choir performances, and carol singing daily. Christmas rallies are also in preparation. People working in other parts of the country and the globe make it a tradition to visit their ancestral homes during this festive season. Numerous youth groups and bands organize informal Christmas programs in open-air grounds and street corners, along with formal dance parties in party halls. Over the past week, there has been a flurry of activity creating Christmas cribs at homes, churches, and public spaces. While Hindus celebrate thematic Ganesh festivals and pandals, Christians engage in thematic crib presentations, with various organizations hosting competitions for the best crib presentation.

The second type of Christians in Vasai consists of those who have migrated to the area in the last six decades, residing in urban conglomerations on both sides of the railway tracks and stations. Belonging to various denominations, they have their worship centers and churches, celebrating Christmas in their unique languages and rituals. Many of them return to their native places to celebrate Christmas with their families. Members of these denominations often go door-to-door singing carols. Their worship centers and homes are decorated, and choir members showcase cultural performances. Additionally, there is an annual tradition of visiting orphanages or old-age homes to celebrate Christmas with the residents.

Evolving Christmas celebrations

Various historians note that the celebrations of Christmas in Vasai have evolved over the last five centuries. During the Portuguese rule, Christmas was celebrated with joy and abandon. After the defeat of the Portuguese by the Marathas and the establishment of the Peshwa Raj, Christmas became a subdued festival. The British Raj saw a revival of fervent Christmas celebrations, influenced by Anglican traditions and the introduction of English. Post-1947, the local Catholic community emphasized local language and culture while preserving religious tenets. This indigenization gained momentum after 1960, following the establishment of the state of Maharashtra. Since then, there has been a continuous migration of Christians from various parts of India, bringing with them diverse languages, cultural practices, and rituals, all of which are now reflected in the Christmas celebrations of Vasai.

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