Bonding over celebrations, not religion
Christmas is nothing short of a community celebration. It is a day of joy for Christians all over the world to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ and a day of wonder for others, who love to observe the festivities and good cheer, which is brought in with the season.
Though the festival is largely celebrated by Christians, there are non-christians who are also actively involved in the activities of the church, of their own accord.
Aditi Das began attending the evening prayers at a little chapel in Jyoti Nivas College while she was a student there. Apart from singing carols with her friends, she was drawn to the festivities for another reason. “The peace inside, when everyone is quietly listening to the sermon, and the unity among all these strangers is nice. It is an emotional appeal as well, the ambience is so soothing,” she says. Many first timers to the celebrations usually accompany a Christian friend or go to satisfy their curiosity like Harini Dosapati, who has visited church a few times with her friend Rachel and found the music and the spirit uplifting. While she wishes to attend Christmas mass, her exams might hinder her plans.
It is not just during Christmas that many turn to a community to feel relief or joy.
Hariharan, a student in an engineering college considers the music, dancing and the other revelry secondary to the emotional appeal. He says, “I went to church for the first time with a friend when I was going through a rough time. Though I don’t go anymore, I remember that it felt nice. It brings about faith in you.”
Reverend Abraham Kuruvilla, a student chaplain at Marthoma Syrian Church says that there are non-christians who are involved outside the church, with the external celebrations like singing carols, filming the festivities and so on. He believes that the songs, carols, decorations and Santa Claus are only secondary attractions to them. “They usually come to church when there are events or festivals, especially Christmas. It’s a festival beyond Christians, the message of love and love for all humanity, is what I think draws them to the festivities.”