Christmas is a joyous occasion for one and all in India. Known as ‘Bada Din’ in Hindi (translated as ‘Big Day’), it is a season when people of all faiths are open to the message of Christmas. The media – including print, radio and television – is also more open in portraying the message of Christmas freely, more so than other times of the year.
Christian homes are easily located during this season, as they are sure to have at least one big star hanging prominently, along with lights or candles. Christmas trees and nativity scenes are also set up in most Christian institutions and hospitals, as well as houses in the towns and cities.
Presents are given mainly to children through special Christmas programs organized in churches or homes. Christians go the extra mile to visit orphanages, hospitals, leprosy homes and prisons to give gifts and food. Usually, someone dressed as Santa Claus is there to distribute the gifts. Santa Claus is a popular figure among children in India, and is synonymous with Christmas. However, he is seen as someone from a foreign culture, who has been imported into India. Even for Christians, Santa sometimes gets more attention amidst the festivities than Christ himself.
Another important aspect of Christmas in India is food. Bakeries are filled with people purchasing cakes of different shapes and sizes. In towns and rural areas, homemade cakes, native sweets and flour cookies are prepared. This is mainly for giving to friends and family. On Christmas day a special lunch or dinner is prepared in all Christian homes, and the main dish is ‘biryani’ (chicken or mutton mixed with sweet smelling rice and spices). Relatives and close friends join in the celebrations.
These days, more and more Christians are using Christmas as an opportunity to witness openly. In one church, the members packed New Testament Bibles with a gospel message and distributed them to the homes of government officials in their city. Would you like to help spread the love of Christ to India this holiday season? Click here to learn how you can.
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