23 December 2009

Christmas in India

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!


qaminante said...

And a very merry Christmas to you, Isabel, look forward to reading about your trip.

Unknown said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing, Isabel. I was talking to my girlfriend last night about India, in general, and the subject of Christmas came up.

Hope you and hubby enjoy the holidays this year.



Shubha said...

Ya,I dont miss seeing people going crazy shopping until the day before christmas in US,acting like they to get shop only once a year and like they badly need that stuff!


Manny said...

Christians are not 2% anymore. That is based on census that is 30 years old. Today its closer to 10%. Evangelicals have been converting people. But the left govt do not want backlash so they keep spouting this 30 year old census data.

Anonymous said...

I am an Indian christian from Kerala state...Christmas is greatly celebrated in Kerala which has a christian population of 19 percentage...

It is a state in which religious conflicts are less when compared to other Indian states and ppl are really open minded...Christmas is celebrated by Hindus also here...