Christmas in Kolkata
After the autumnal Durga Puja, the favorite festival of the Bengalis all over the world, followed by Id and Diwali the Kolkatans look forward eagerly to the celebration of Christmas and New year. It has been the chilliest weather since Sunday and the perfect time for such joyous observance. The festivities begin much before the scheduled day and the emotional Bengalis get yet another opportunity for gala events and sumptuous meals in conjunction with day night revelries.
A week long Kolkata Christmas festival is now being celebrated for the very first time at Park Street which is the most attractive part of the city decking up with carnival colors along with its shimmering lights, night clubs and nocturnal revelries with music. Other parts of the city also celebrate although with lesser vigor and fun. The soothing tunes of Christmas carol with crimson colored robes of Santa Claus set the ideal mood for such celebration in Kolkata. As a small boy puts it in his own way “ It is Christmas time and our city is lit up like never before. Our schools are closed and we are for the special gala occasion which is uniquely Bengali way of celebrating Christmas”.Not to speak of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, fairs are organized in far flung areas of the state, where even Hindus, Mohammedans comprise the committees formed to observe the Xmas properly.
A festive atmosphere
Weaving all the religions in the same string
Besides the pomp and grandeur associated with such event the most glaring aspect is that the Bengalis do not consider this festival as an alien event and meant just for the Christians.For the Hindu majority Kolkata with a sizeable Mohammedan, Sikhs and Christians to name only few the celebration is for all. Like Durga Puja Christmas has a universal appeal and that attracts all the religions in the cosmopolitan city. It looks like there is absolutely no demarcation among the religions and the difference,if any, appears to fade away with participation by all. So the Kolkatans never think of the festivals as for only the Christian communities. All the communities irrespective of religious beliefs observe Xmas in their own way by eating cakes, pastries, putting on hats and beautifully arranging Christmas trees in their houses and the way they observe one will fail to differentiate them from the Christians.
Although the population of the Christians has decreased the fervor of the festival has remained due to the patronage by the residents of all the communities. This is corroborated by the cultural activities associated with such observance. Paintings, drawings of Jesus Christ and Santa Claus, the favorite for the children run the shows and they are agog with joy with fun filled activities. There are amateur and professional Santas to quench the everlasting thirst of the children who receive huge toys, chocolates in the process. Educational Institutions remain closed for a few days allowing the students to observe the festival in a befitting manner much to their joy and amusement. One thing is very clear that there is actually no division among the many religious beliefs. Every religion aims at bringing harmony and benefits for the mankind. And being the cosmopolitan city Kolkata shows how to weave all the religions in the same string, like a writer skillfully drawing together the different threads of a plot and showing there is only one God without a second.
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