16 Jan Christmas in India
Mid-January, the new year is in full swing, and I’ve almost forgotten that a month ago I was hoping to spread some Christmas cheer while singing loudly for all to hear! I’m thankful to celebrate Christmas in a foreign country, a Hindu/Muslim culture where Christmas and its traditions are unfamiliar to most Indians, and I want to share with you a part of my experience this year.
Christmas carols are one of the most common signs that the holidays have arrived. We sing of joy coming into the world through Jesus, Emmanuel, and often times, the words become background noise until a Christmas Eve service where we finally slow down and listen, being called to come and worship, come and adore Christ the Lord. However, India provides a different opportunity not often afforded in America, at least, never before for me: house to house caroling.
Two of my friends, a brother and sister duo, started going to their friends’ houses last year in the week leading up to Christmas to sing carols and share about the meaning of Christmas. This year, they invited one of our friends and myself to join them. It was quite a wonderful, joyous experience that caused me to look and long for Christ in a new way.
The week before Christmas, we visited three or four houses each night where we sang a few Christmas carols from this collection: Silver Bells, Silent Night, Joy to the World, Come All Ye Faithful, Oh Holy Night, and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. After singing four of these songs, my friend would share about the tradition of caroling and why Christians celebrate Christmas. He shared Matthew 1:18-24 about the birth of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us. These families, whether friends, colleagues, clients, or students, always showed such warm hospitality as they welcomed us into their homes with snacks (called namkeen) and chai or coffee. Some even gave us gifts! It was very sweet.
One night, as we sang for my house helper and her family, a few boys in the apartment building behind mine, came down to invite us to come sing at their house. A family we did not know and had no intention of going to invited us into their home, and we were able to sing for and share with them also.
We ended the week of caroling singing at a local chai (tea) bar where about 20-30 college-aged students and young professionals gathered and sang along with us! In these moments, I realized how easy it is to localize Christmas and its meaning to myself and my own family missing the opportunity it can be for sharing with others, who may not know, the reason for celebrating Christmas.
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21
Posted by Rachel