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Xmas down the years

The change is palpable — from family affair to the social festivity.

Christmas has over the years crossed the religious boundaries in the city and it is now being celebrated by a cross section of the society.

The Yuletide celebrations, once confined to churches and families till the ’90s, can today be seen in the form of decorative LEDs on every second shop in the commercial hub, artificial Christmas trees adorning the cafés and cakes being sold at numerous places across the city. Among the new phenomenon of the Christmas celebrations in the city are a host of parties and non-Christians donating to the poor in the month of Advent to mark the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Telegraph talked to a few who’s who in the Christian community about how the celebrations have evolved in the past few decades.

Inclusiveness
Father Johnson Kelakath SJ Parish priest at Queen of Apostle Church, Kurji

The Christmas celebrations in the city seem to have become more inclusive in terms of people from other communities also joining the holy festival over the past three to four decades. However, the Christmas celebrations inside the church have mostly remained the same. It includes lighting a candle on all five Sundays in the month of Advent, singing hymns and choir accompanied with worships

Huge Celebrations
Glen Joseph Galstaun
MLA from Jharkhand and St Dominic Savio’s School, Patna, director

I have been brought up in Patna and I believe that as the years have gone by the Christmas celebrations have gone only bigger and more lavish. Till the 1960s, Christmas celebrations used to happen mainly at Bankipore Church, Kurji Church and Padri Ki Haveli at Patna City. Now, apart from the in-house celebrations by Christian families, even non-Christian people join them for Christmas dinners

E-era posers
Puja Ann Sharma
National board member, YMCA India and board of director, YMCA Patna

The era of cellphones and Internet these days seem to have reduced the socialising aspect of the festival to some extent. I remember we always used to visit our family members on Christmas but these days a trend is seen that people wish relatives over phone or by sending e-mails only. However, one feels nice when we see all sorts of stalls selling Santa clothes, caps and Xmas trees

Festival for all
Sanjay Joseph Maths teacher at St Michael’s High School

I remember in the ’90s there used to be only two churches — Padri Ki Haveli at Patna City and Bishop House at Gandhi Maidan. However, now even the number of churches or parishes has increased and so is the number of followers. Today, one gets to receive Christmas messages from friends from all religions right from the Christmas Eve. Many non-Christian friends and colleagues also join the midnight mass at the church

No more religious
clarence peter Educational consultant

Though I feel glad with the increased acceptability of Christmas but I also believe that the holy festival is losing some religious touch at the same time. For most people these days, Christmas basically means a time to “eat, drink and be merry” and they hardly pay any heed to the traditional rituals. It is good that people want to enjoy the festival but one should also respect the sanctity of it. Moreover, I think Christmas has also been undergone too much of commercialisation lately, which should be avoided

Message of peace
William d’souza Archbishop of Patna

Christmas is celebration of joy, hope, peace and brotherhood. Jesus is “Emmanuel” meaning “God with us” and Christmas is the celebration of that precious and divine moment of God’s entry into human history. On this Christmas, let us once again experience, celebrate and share with our fellow men, the love, joy, peace and hope that Jesus brought into this world especially with those who are less fortunate than we are; with those who are poor, despised, marginalized and are victims of the unjust social order. Together with the Christian community in Bihar, I wish all my fellowmen a very merry Christmas and a joyous New Year

Father Johnson Kelakath SJ

God loves man and humanity. God comes amongst us as a human as he wants us to show love to each other. Thus, we all should live in harmony