On the Christmas eve, the timeless melodies of “Silent Night, Holy Night….”, will fill the air with joy and nostalgia. Christmas exudes a contagious enthusiasm that permeates the air. The twinkling lights, festive decorations, and joyous Carols create a palpable excitement.  In a quint Bengal Village Christmas unfolds with a unique charm. The local Church will resonate, ” Sundar ei punyorat… Ujjal tarar aloy bhora punyo rat… Jege thako tumi jege thako… Praner angina sajiye rekho… Dhyan bani santi mogno punyo rat…”  

The echoes of the carols sung by Sunil Perera, Augustine D’Cruz, Anjali Gomez, Simson D’Costa, Sunil Rosario, still resonate, and reminds their journey from West Asia or Europe to India before the Christmas Eve. This creates a bittersweet longing for the simplicity and the magic of the bygone festive seasons. The aroma of traditional dishes like Pithe-Puli, Bhajakari, Vindaloo or Carne de vinha d’alhos, along with the festive fragrance of plum cake blends in the air.

The churches resonate with the hymns in various languages, reflects the country’s linguistic diversity.  The beautiful amalgamation of the Western traditions with the Indian traditions creates a unique celebration where the universal message of joy and goodwill transcends cultural boundaries and makes Christmas in Bengal a beautifully diverse and inclusive affair. The Christmas Carols often take on a distinctive flavor by blending Western tunes with the rich heritage of Indian Classical music . On the Christmas eve, “Khristha Kirtaniyas”, sings the hymns adorned with the instruments like ‘khol’, ‘kartal’, ‘khanjani’, flute, and ‘harmonium ‘, and experimenting with the ragas , by adding an Indian Classical touch to the harmonies. This infuses the melodies with a unique rhythmic tonal complexity, and creates a beautiful synergy, where the soulful expression of Western Christmas songs finds resonance within the intricate nuances of Indian Music. This results in a musical celebration that seamlessly bridges the cultural divides and reflects the diversity that defines India’s artistic landscape. 

In Bengal, to the rustic dwellers, Christmas is considered to be very significant as it aligns with the season of Winter Harvest. Before the Christmas Eve, the harvest bounty becomes a part of the feast, with freshly harvested corps contributing to the traditional preparations like ‘pithe-puli’ & rose cookie. The festive atmosphere extends to the rural communities where the farmers come together for cultural programs, blending local traditions with global celebration of Christmas.  Christmas transcends the religious boundaries,  fostering a beautiful tapestry of unity, hindus, muslims, christians and individuals from various faiths come together to embrace the festive spirit. The exchange of greeting, sharing of meals & participation in community events create an atmosphere of camaraderie. The Christmas decorations add a festive flair to homes & public places. The twinkling lights adorn Christmas trees, wreaths embellish doors, ornaments, tinsels and garlands create a merry atmosphere.

During Christmas, the ‘Gaushalas’- cow shelter is festooned in a unique touch, depicting the Nativity Scene, which is arranged very thoughtfully, with the traditional figures of Mary, Joseph, & baby Jesus, in the crib along with a heard of cow and other animals, angels, and Magi- Wise men, bearing gifts, made by the artisans of Krishnanagar. This scene symbolizes the humble and serene setting .The nativity scenes are a central element of Christmas decoration in many cultures. This serves as a visual reminder of the religious significance of Christmas, emphasizing the themes of love, peace & hope brought by the birth of Jesus.  The tinsels of Christmas extend from the lanes of Park Street to the Borders of Bongaon.

Many Christians reside on the shorelines of the River Ichamati in Bangladesh,  tgey celebrate this auspicious occasion in an idiosyncratic fashion. The whiff of Nolen gur, Pithe puli, Doi chere, Binner Khoi, Batasha & Mortoman Kola, graces the holiday feasts.

The trails of melody sung by the Dom Antonio of East Bengal & Anthony Firingee of the West harmoniously blend with the vibrant sounds of Indian Instruments. The Sampriti Mela, held on the Christmas for centuries in the Sajinatala village of Basanti Island, Sundarbans which spreads the universal message of peace and hope by transcending the religious and cultural boundaries. 

Reminising the past on Christmas is like unwrapping cherished memories stored in the heart’s treasure chest. In this place, Simson, Sunil Biswas, Rahmat Ali & Saidul Mondal used to sing with several vibrant sounds of instruments. This musical fusion creates a rich & festive atmosphere, where the cultural diversity of the Anglo-Indian heritage merges seamlessly with the spirit of Christmas. Garos, Mechs, join Santhals & Mundas in the Church grounds of Alipurduar in North Bengal to celebrate this joyous occasion of the holiday season. 

The fusion of classical Christmas carols with the soulful and mystical tunes of ‘Baul Geet’, create a harmonious celebration that weaves together the universal themes of Christmas. In Bengal the tradition of singing Christmas songs from door to door adds a delightful touch to the festive season.

Before Job Charnock established the city Kolkata, many Portuguese had come to Chittagong,  Hoogly and there they built Bandel Church.

Christmas in Shantiniketan was founded by Rabindranath Tagore on 25th December,  1923, carries a unique artistic charm. Tagore wrote, ” Tai tomar Anonde Amar por… Tai tumi esecho niche…”. On December 25, 1932, he wrote, “Borodin nijike porikha korbar din , Nijeke nomro korbar din…”. 

Till date Christmas is celebrated in distinctive & artistic flavor, in Tagore’s Shantiniketan, also in Ramkrishna Math and Mission.

Jamini Roy’s image of Ganesh Janani symbolizes the eternal maternal love shares a close resemblance with the iconic representation of Jesus & Mother Mary. These pictures remind the sacred relationship between Mother and child also that the artistic expressions transcend all the religious boundaries.

In Bengal, Christmas is not just a festive occasion but a testament to the region’s open minded embrace of cultural diversity.  Through the fusion of traditions, Bengal’s Christmas becomes vibrant expression of unity, bridging the gaps and fostering a collective spirit of joy & togetherness.


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