Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas, Christians & Christianity in India

Christmas and Christianity is becoming popular in India. There was once a time, when only a few houses in an entire area, that hang "Christmas stars" outside. Today, there are few houses in every street, with glittering "Christmas stars" hung outside.

Christmas is getting celebrated in a big way, in India. Since it is a government holiday, many party halls and restaurants are filled with people. It isn't just common man who is celebrating Christmas, in India. Even commercial establishments and eateries make Christmas, a big event. They announce a lot of sweet deals and offers around Christmas. News papers are filled with Christmas related advertisements.

Santa Claus is getting popular in schools, these days. My daughter in KG, came home with a small toy car and some candy. She said "Santa Claus came to our school today to give gifts to everyone !!". She was very cheerful on getting a gift from Santa Claus. 

My uncle is a Christian for several decades now. A couple of my relatives converted to Christianity, recently. Though I'm not a strong believer of one particular religion, I'm quite surprised by the conversion rate. I learned that Christian missionaries help folks who are in "need". In fact, one of my
relatives got an aid to set up a petty shop. Needless to say that he became a Christian.Christian missionaries run several schools in Chennai - many of them provide free education to the needy and to the bright students. One of my neighbors died unexpectedly and the Christian school in which his sons studied, took care of the kids' educational expenses.

There is a church in every other street, now. When I say church, don't imagine a Roman style church. Folks have rented out or converted large halls into churches for their regular prayers. Just take a morning walk, you would notice a number of people attending early morning prayers/mass in the churches.

Sundays are very special. You can see a number of Christians, well dressed up and with a bible in their hand, visiting churches. People of different age groups, different gender, different race, different economical status attend the mass on Sundays. It is nice to see people getting disciplined. Christians do organize processions on special days such as Christmas. Of course, when there is crowd, there are beggars. Beggars gather outside the church, eagerly waiting for the mass to be over, to get alms.

I did some Internet search to find numbers to substantiate my observations, on the growth of Christianity. However, I could find none. Christians constitute only 2.34% of the overall Indian population (based on census data published in 2004). The growth rate of Christianity in 2004 was 23% (when compared to 21% in 1991). The numbers don't add-up to justify my observations. I'm very curious to see the results of the census data being gathered now, in India.

4 comments:

  1. I think what is observed is the selling of the term "Christmas" and not Christianity. If you purely look at from a business perspective, its a selling opportunity, nothing related to promoting the religion itself from what is observed in malls and homes from the outside. When businesses do that, its just like promoting attention and involuntary involvement to be part of that spirit, not because it is related to Christianity.

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  2. I am not sure if the observations in the article applies to the whole of India. Christianity in India dates back to almost 2000 years. Also, there have been waves of conversions in India at intervals since then, often coinciding with the arrival of different nationalities. There are places in India where Christmas is celebrated with even more passion than what you have observed, at the same time there are places too where it makes no ripple in the society. Appears that your observation pertains to the area you have settled in and not the whole of India as the title might suggest!

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  3. You wouldn't beleive, how much fund is allocated each year by the christian missionaries. Since the % of population following christianity is reducing in Europe, they need a balancing or multiplied numbers from Asia / Africa. Hence they were trageting the peoples in India. Do a google search in online about Joshua project, u will get more statistical information than the indian government had. How they are planning and startegizing the conversion.Even the person who introduce his neighbour / friends get Rs 5000.Then think how much the bigger folks must have in their kitty.

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