Celebrate Christmas In India


Instead of a white Christmas, what India promises is splendid experiences in the form of color, scenic destinations, and cuisines. Just for once get away from the sameness of Christmas in the US or Europe and spend a fortnight of good cheer in this land.

You might think of arriving in Mumbai and spending Christmas Eve here in which case you will find some churches and a predominantly Catholic community attending midnight mass with celebrations later on. Bandra is a blaze of glorious lighting and people moving about freely. Another option is to go to Goa, where you can enjoy the sun and sand on its fabulous beaches in a celebratory atmosphere. Goa has a large Catholic population, and you can even view some quaint customs.

Now, if you want to truly celebrate Christmas in royal style, head for Rajasthan. You can do the normal tourist circuit comprising of Jaipur, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Ajmer, Udaipur and Jaisalmer in a package tour, or better still, book a passage on the Palace on Wheels or the Royal Rajasthan on Wheels, two fabulous trains that take you on a phantasmagoric journey across the princely cities of the state in truly Maharaja style. Or, you could just spend it in Jaisalmer, which can be exquisite in winter, the cool weather a perfect complement to the golden sand dunes where you can have a glorious bonfire and a party of a different kind.

From the dry sands of Rajasthan to the lush wet regions of Kerala is travel to another dimension. Kerala is home to many Christians from many denominations with the Syrian Coptic church celebration something worth attending. Here it is Christmas the Kerala way with plenty of warm sunshine on the beaches, lovely houseboat stays on the backwaters or, if you prefer, a trek in Thekkady, the state’s Natural Park. The warmth of the people, the magical cuisine, and the pleasantly warm climate will transform Christmas into a colorful one in all senses.

Then you have Karnataka, Andhra and Tamil Nadu, the other three southern states of India with a large Christian population. Christmas traditions here, as you will discover, are a quaint mixture of British and European styles mixed with some Hindu customs. There are churches in Chennai and Madurai in Tamil Nadu; in cities of Andhra such as Vizag, Guntur, and Hyderabad and Bangalore, Mysore and other cities of Karnataka. Christmas celebration is just one part of the story. You get infinitely more. A visit to Tamil Nadu means you get a first-hand experience of Christmas in addition to an opportunity to marvel at the ancient massive granite carved temples, for instance.

Midnight mass is a very important service for Christians in India, especially Catholics. The whole family will walk to mass, and this will be followed by a massive feast of different delicacies, (mostly curries) and the giving and receiving of presents. Churches in India are decorated with Poinsettia flowers and candles for the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass service.

Make it different this Christmas: look East to India and celebrate it in the most colorfully vibrant country.

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