Christmas cheer spreads from Rashtrapati Bhavan
Singing carols in the capital this week will be victims of last year's violence in Kandhamal, Orissa. Even as they put the past behind and spread Christmas cheer, celebrations have begun in right earnest at Rashtrapati Bhavan!
The presidential palace echoed with "jingle bells, jingle bells" as choir groups from India's northeast and Delhi sang one carol after another at a function organised by President Pratibha Patil. Representatives of all Christian groups in India were invited. So were Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur.
"It was a beautiful function," said a senior Catholic priest, who attended the celebrations at Rashtrapati Bhavan Dec 17. The programme featured carol singing by choir groups from Meghalaya, Delhi and Nagaland.
The Christmas message was delivered by Vincent Concessao, the archbishop of Delhi. The festival will be observed all over the country Friday. As part of its Christmas celebrations, the Delhi Archdiocese is organising a carol singing programme at India Gate on Christmas Day.
"What makes it special is that part of the carols will be sung by the victims of Kandhamal riots who would like to let the world know that Jesus' birthday is a good occasion to be reconciled with all and to share his message of love," said an Archdiocese message here.
Christmas carols are based on Christian lyrics and were introduced as part of church services by St. Francis of Assisi in the 12th century, say Catholic historians.
The word "carol" is derived from the French word caroler, which means dancing around in a circle.
According to a post on share-christmas.com, "Christmas music sure sounds good again, always brings back those memories of years before. Everyone can enjoy some good Christmas music along with their favourite warm drink."
"I wish a happy Christmas and New Year to everybody," said Minister of State for Agriculture K.V. Thomas, who hails from Kerala but will celebrate Christmas in New Delhi this time.
"My children and grandchildren are coming Delhi to celebrate Christmas. For me, it is a get-together," Thomas said.
India has nearly 25 million Christians in a population of 1.2 billion.