When one thinks of India, colors, vedas, mythology, spirituality and culture come to mind. India is the largest non-secular country. There are many religions practiced in India including Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Christianity. India celebrates all major festivals for all of these religions.
Christianity is India’s third-largest religion according to the census of 2011, with approximately 27.8 million followers, constituting 2.3 percent of India’s population. Old legends say that Christianity was introduced to India by Thomas the Apostle, who visited Muziris in Kerala in AD 52.
So how do they celebrate Christmas in India? Does Santa Claus look the same as he does here in the states? Do they have Christmas tree and presents and mass? Since there are many other religions along with Christianity the traditions are influenced by local cultures.
Sometimes people use mango leaves to decorate their homes. In Southern India, Christians often put small oil burning clay lamps on the flat roofs of their homes to show their neighbors that Jesus is the light of the world. Christians in Goa love to celebrate Christmas!
Yes there are bright lights, Christmas trees, a brown Santa Clause, and church services. No presents however! They don’t do Christmas presents in India. Instead, they wake up to a hot, spicy breakfast, and then they gather up the boxes of dark fruitcakes and homemade kuswar and head over to all of their neighbors’, family, and friends’ homes. It didn’t matter if they were Hindu, Christian, or Muslim — all neighbors got some goodies, and wished them a Happy Christmas. They finish their sweet errands by noon, and savor a spicy Indian Christmas lu.
What makes Christmas in India special is the same thing that makes it special every where in the world. Rejoicing the birth of Jesus Christ and his teachings.