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Christmas Celebrations In South Asia
There is a considerable Christian population residing in the South Asian region. The community awaits and enjoys the annual festival with great enthusiasm and vigor. The celebrations also bear similarity with the western way of celebrating the festive occasion. Elaborate decorations, Christmas carols and feasting is seen in the whole of South Asia and it is also common to see people dressed like Santa Claus on Christmas, especially in India, as the country has witnessed an impact of European traditions during the colonial era. Read on to know more about Christmas celebrations and traditions in South Asia.
A large numbers of Christians reside in the South Asian countries, including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They celebrate the festival with much fun and enthusiasm every year.
In India, Christians account for nearly 2.3% of the population. Indian Christians, especially the Catholics, attach immense importance to Midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The service has great religious significance for them. Christian families visit the local churches on the night of 24th December, to attend the midnight mass. The churches are decorated with Poinsettia flowers and candles on this festive occasion. After the mass is over, celebrators enjoy a lavish feast, consisting of varied Christmas delicacies. Gifts are also exchanged among celebrators. Being a multi-linguistic and multicultural nation, ‘Merry Christmas’ in India is wished in many native languages.
In the South Asian country of Pakistan, the small population of Christians celebrates the festival with great enthusiasm. A big procession takes place in Lahore. The procession begins from St. Anthony’s Church and ends at the Cathedral. The services take hours to reach the Cathedral. Spiritual seminars are held before and during the Advent. These seminars are intended to help people in preparing for ‘Bara Din’ (meaning the ‘Big Day’). Christmas carols are sung in predominantly Christian areas during the last week of Advent. Singers go door-to-door and the families give them something in return. Usually, the money collected from these carols is donated to charities.
In Bangladesh, another prominent South Asian country, Christmas is identified as ‘Bara Din’ (Bangladesh was earlier a part of Pakistan). The country has its own unique way of celebrating the festival. The St. Mary’s Church in the state capital, Dhaka, hosts religious gathering, which continues for days. Other churches invite the community to join them in decorating Christmas tree and singing carols. Some churches also organize a feast after the services. The festival is largely associated with giving and receiving the love of god. Most families spend the Christmas Eve together, even as Christmas songs are played in the background. The festival is usually a busy day for entire Christian community in Bangladesh