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Singing Christmas carol

For many people today, especially those who belong to faiths other than Christianity, Christmas is only about Santa Clause, Christmas trees and shopping at malls. Mallica Joshi writes.

delhi Updated: Dec 23, 2010 02:02 IST
Mallica Joshi

It happened when Pallavi Bhatia asked her 8-year-old son Siddhartha whether they sang Christmas carols in school.

"Yes. We sing Jingle Bells," he replied.

Bhatia, who studied in Queen Mary's School (Tis Hazari) - one of the oldest Christian schools in Delhi - was surprised.

"Jingle Bells is not a carol. It is a fun Christmas song. It is then that I realised that my son thinks Christmas is only about Santa Clause, gifts and Jingle Bells," she says.

For many people today, especially those who belong to faiths other than Christianity, Christmas is only about Santa Clause, Christmas trees and shopping at malls. Hidden behind these is a very popular Christmas tradition that sets the tone of Christmas — that of carolling.

Carolling is an integral part of Christmas where choirs, usually belonging to churches, sing Christmas carols in the church and at the homes of parishioners before December 25.

Delhi has many choir groups that are popular within the community and in convent and Christian missionary schools.

Delhi Christian Chorus (DCC) is among the oldest choirs in Delhi. It was started in 1965 and recently celebrated its 45th annual performance.

"Earlier Christmas was limited only to Christian communities but over the years, people from other faiths started celebrating it too," said Royall Mclaren, director, DCC. The choir has many members from other faiths as well.

Carols are songs that tell the story of the birth of Jesus. Carols such as Long time ago in Bethlehem, While Shepherds Watched, Once in David's Royal City, Silent Night and Joy to the World are among the most popular carols sung in the Christmas season.

"They are based on the events that are mentioned in the Bible and they are about the birth of Jesus. On the other hand, popular songs like Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer are just songs related to Christmas," said Vijay Sewak, president, Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA).

Many choirs believe the perception that Christmas is a festival to just relax and lay back.

"I am never as busy as I am during Christmas. After college it is time to practice with the choir and then go carolling," said Ishnita Nayantara Keskar.

"Carolling sets the moods for Christmas but the concept has changed over time in Delhi. The culture is slowly diminishing and many choirs that sing in concerts, rather than in people's homes, have started to come up," said JA Benjamin, general secretary, YMCA.