Christmas is known as "Badaa Din" (Big Day) in North and North-West India and people plant trees on this day. North Eastern states and South India celebrates it on a larger scale.
The tradition of Christmas was introduced in India with the colonization by the Europeans. Though India got its independence in 1947, many European customs and festivals left the mark on native culture and Indians happily accepted it. Today, Christmas is one of the biggest and most-loved festival of Indians.
Everyone get set for the festival from nearly a week before. Business stores have already geared up for the occasion with every gift shop packed with Christmas trees, presents, ornaments and other items of decoration.
Today is one of the ‘ Big Discount Days’ as shops and malls have come up with innovative ideas to sell more on this day. Shopaholics are definitely going to shop till they drop. Like many other festivals, this is also cherished by children more. Santa is the closest friend of every child and Christmas connects them to their most loved Santa. Today, we are going to exchange gifts, make desserts and celebrate with our family and friends. We are definitely going to party hard as this is the last festival of the year.
Let us now have a look at how India celebrates it.
For Indian Christians, especially for the Catholics, the Midnight mass on Christmas Eve is a very important and has a great religious significance. Every year, on the night of 24th December, all members in Christian families visit their local churches to attend the Midnight mass.
On this night, the churches in India are decorated with Poinsettia flowers and candles. Nativity plays are staged in many schools and churches on Christmas morning. 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 kids. A smiling Santa Claus, entertaining children at departmental stores with toys and gifts, is a common sight.
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.
Ways of celebrating festivals may differ from place to place, culture to culture, but the mood of celebration and zeal is equal across the nation. Youngsters start making plans for new year eve once Christmas is near. The ‘party all night’ mood in Goa is the most attractive part of this festival for youngsters. Catholics in Goa participate in the traditional midnight mass services, called as Missa de Galo or Cock Crow as they go on well into early hours of the morning. The Carnival, preceding Lent, is the most important event at Goa. This is similar to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Restaurants, malls and shops across the nation are full of merry, which turns on the party mood that lasts till the new year morning. Christmas being the last festival of the year , is celebrated with more enthusiasm.