After violence, India set
for low-key Christmas
By T.G. Biju
Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) Across India, Christmas never fails to
stir a tingle of joy. But this time celebrations may be low-key
among Christians as a top church body wants ostentation to
be avoided in the wake of attacks on the community in several
parts of the country.
of the atrocities on the Christian community, the church has
decided to celebrate Christmas this year in a very subdued
manner," Father Babu Joseph, spokesperson of the Catholic
Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), said.
Christian community in the country has been asked to avoid
elaborate and ostentatious Christmas celebrations, which mark
the day all over the world," Babu Joseph told IANS.
25 is celebrated with much merriment in India, not only by
its 24 million Christians but also by people of other faiths.
However, violence against the community, which was triggered
in Orissa in August and spread to other areas, is likely to
play the spoiler this time.
decision to celebrate Christmas in a low key manner was taken
due to the adverse experience of the community in different
parts of the country, particularly in Orissa, where thousands
of people have been rendered homeless and hundreds of places
of worship destroyed," he said.
secretary general Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes issued a
letter Tuesday to urge the community to avoid elaborate and
ostentatious celebrations to express the church's solidarity
with the Christians of Orissa.
money that will be saved from cutting down on celebrations
will be collected from parishes across the country and it
will be utilised to help violence-hit people in Orissa,"
Babu Joseph said.
least 38 Christians were killed and thousands were forced
to flee their homes in Orissa after their houses were attacked
by rampaging Hindu mobs who accused members of the minority
community of killing Hindu leader Laxmanananda Saraswati.
than 10,000 are still living in government-run relief camps
in Kandhamal district.
a low key Christmas celebration, the church in India wants
to give a very clear message that it denounces all forms of
violence in the name of religions and eventually wants to
establish a society founded on values of mutual respect, tolerance
and mutual respect," Babu Joseph added.
Vincent M. Concessao of Delhi Wednesday released a special
Christmas card here highlighting the theme of the festival
against the backdrop of atrocities on the community in Orissa.
"...Peace to People of Good Will!", on the front
side, the card depicts pictures of Christian and other victims
of violence in Orissa and Karnataka interspersed with the
traditional crib, depicting the photo of Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
which is placed on the right hand side.
unique Christmas card is intended to be sent to public servants,
political leaders, members of civil society and Christians
to draw attention to the plight of the Christian community
under persecution," said a Church official.