My friends often ask me what Christmas is like in India, and whether it’s celebrated. Christmas Day is an official holiday here, and it is celebrated by India’s Christian community – which makes up about 2.4% of the population – so that comes to 24 million people, which is more than the population of some countries in Europe!
For the past few days, some shops and restaurants have been displaying Christmas decorations. There are trees and decorations for sale. There are also street vendors selling Santa caps on the city's roads! In India, the tradition is to hang a big, colourful lantern in the shape of a star outside your house. These look beautiful when they’re lit at night. So I can tell which of my neighbours are Christian by the star lanterns hanging in front of their doors.
Being away from home is of course always a bit difficult at Christmas time. Many of my foreign friends have already gone home for the holidays. Others take advantage of the Christmas Break to travel. Schools will close for almost two weeks and many people are looking forward to the long weekend.
The advantage of being in India is that you can almost forget it’s Christmas. First of all, of course there’s no snow, and the weather is too warm. Overall Christmas is very low-key, without the commercialism which is overdone in the West. I admit that I don’t miss that aspect.
For this Christmas break, I decided to visit a state I have never been to and know little about. Also, I don’t want to go too far north because of the cold! So I’m heading to Madhya Pradesh. I have done some research and have learned that there are lots of interesting places to see. I’ll write about my impressions once I get back. In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all my readers!