It’s that time of the year again, when the ‘Claus’ and effect principle seems all pervasive. And the Capital is no exception to this. As the weather gets nippier, decked-up malls and markets brim over with the Christmas spirit.
Party invitations pour in by the deck-load and Delhiites seem all set to ho-ho their way to merry-making. From lavish luncheons and dinner feasts to late-night theme parties, private get-togethers and exchange of presents — it’s all on the city’s celebration itinerary. “Delhi has an inherent penchant for revelry. The gaiety associated with Christmas quite naturally appeals to the people here,” said Anita Mitroo, an Indian Airlines employee, while shopping for Christmas knick-knacks at Khan Market.
<b1>Christmas as a festival, however, hasn’t always been this big in the Capital. But with the general commercialisation associated with our times, the festival’s popularity has grown in the last couple of years. Now non-Christians are increasingly joining in the celebrations. Father Chethan Machado, co-pastor at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Ashok Place, endorses the swelling non-Christian participation.
“There are more and more non-Catholics attending the midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Their numbers usually add up to about 400. With each year, it’s getting more difficult to control the crowd. Last year on Christmas, we had over a lakh visitors to the church,” he said. Anasua Mitra is not someone who has recently been introduced to Christmas merry-making. However, she admits that the scale of celebration has significantly increased in recent times. She attributes the change to her children. “I don’t remember schools in our time hosting Xmas parties. They do now and this makes a lot of difference. Now, every year we host a party for my daughter and her friends.” Alongside the wining and dining, there is also a culture of philanthropy that is associated with Christmas. Jeevan Jyoti Home (run by Missionaries of Charity) in Jangpura, which takes care of children with special needs, receives a significant chunk of its charitable aid from Delhiites around this time of the year.
“Though donations peak during Diwali, Christmas is the next important festival in this respect. People belonging to different communities and religions bring gifts for the children and the staff during the Christmas season,” Sister Teresa Paul of Jeevan Jyoti Home said. As Delhiites come together to mark an important day, co-pastor Machado worries that the revelry dimension could overshadow the real meaning of the day.
“Commercialism has always highlighted only certain aspects of this festival with Santa Claus receiving most of the attention. This has led to people nursing misconceptions. I have met children who think that Christmas is Santa Claus’ (and not Jesus Christ’s) birthday. I hope the city knows what it’s coming together to celebrate,” he observed.