Because of international influence on her people, India, perhaps, has
the most cosmopolitan Christmas in the world. Just to name a few:
Christmas trees from Germany, ornaments from America, greeting cards
from England, creches from France, books from Greece.
Christmas is set against a background of scarlet poinsettia trees and
tropical plants. Children in brightly colored dresses, accompanied
by an orchestra of drums and cymbals, perform group dances, using gaily
colored sticks as they do their native dances. Gifts are
exchanged, especially with children, and servants, except baksheesh,
which means coins. In turn, servants present a lemon to the head
of the household on Christmas morning, a symbol of high esteem, bearing
wishes for a long life and prosperity.
Indian Christians do not believe in short services. The main
service on Christmas Day is a midnight one which lasts from two to three
hours, with hundred of communicants and many children all massed
together on the floor.
In northwest India, the tribal Christians of the Bhil folk, an
aboriginal people, go out night after night for a week at Christmas to
sing their equivalent of carols the whole night through.
In south India, Christians fill little clay lamps with oil and put a
piece of twisted cotton in them for wicks. Towards the evening
they light these lamps and place them along the edge of the low flat-
roofed houses and along the walls outside, so that the houses twinkle
with light. When non- Christians ask about this, it presents an
opportunity to share the Christmas story.
In Bangladesh (which
was formerly known as East Pakistan) the christian village men would cut
down scores of banana trees and replant them in pairs along the paths to
churches and outside their homes. They would then bend over the huge
leaves of the banana trees to form an arch, they would then make small
holes in the bamboo poles, fill them with oil and tie them across the
arches. When the oil is lit, the way to the church is lit up bright
enough for all to see.
Nepal is a landlocked
nation located between China and India. It contains eight of world's 10
highest peaks. It is the only official Hindu state in the world and
therefore does not recognize Christian holidays. Visitors would be the
only ones who would celebrate Christmas, and that would be in the
tradition of their home country.