The Telegraph
Friday , January 4 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Together on Christmas

The faithful gathered at the community centre inside Post and Telegraph (P&T) quarters for service on Christmas. The meet, hosted by the CA Block-based Immanuel Evangelical Church, saw the young and old offering prayers and performing together.

Children put up colourful acts. Teenage girls danced to Joy to the world and a carol Jayatu jayatu. The under-10s sang a song Chhoti chidiya, thanking god for the food he gives us. “These are slumchildren from Bediapara near Dum Dum Cantonment whom we look after as part of our community development projects,” said pastor Purnendu Sinha.

Children also enacted a play about a greedy king whose daughter convinces him to turn over a new leaf. “Through this play we spread the message that kindness and sharing lead to happiness,” said Gabriela Sinha, a Class XII student who along with another youth Sylvius Biswas are in charge of Sunday school.

“While the grown-ups attend service every Sunday we take the children to an attached room and teach them about god and tell them Biblical stories through songs, dances and plays,” said Gabriela, adding that they have 35 children between the ages of four and 16 attending Sunday school.

“We practised all our dances at Sunday school,” said Deboleena Mondal, a Class VIII student of CE Block, who had worn a new green gown for the festival.

The adults also had a strong battalion. On the harmonium and lead vocals was the pastor himself, accompanied by Gopal Mukherjee on the dhol, Rabi Balmiki on the keyboard and William Singh on the guitar. Mamata Singh led the vocals and together they sang carols like Moder sukher boro din eshchche and Pronam korile.

“It doesn’t feel like Christmas till we pray together with such a huge gathering,” smiled Sonali Ghosh, a devotee who had come from Baranagar. Her daughters Poulomi and Prishka also sang Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

The church, that holds its Sunday meetings at CA 28, has 350 members and almost 300 of them had turned up on December 25. “Bengalis love festivals and have immense faith in god so they turn up in huge strength on special days,” said pastor Sinha, showing devotees the way to the lunch buffet, christened “the love feast”.